It’s little secret at this point that many in power will use any loophole at their disposal to go after the Second Amendment rights of American citizens. In the latest attack on gun rights, though, the ATF is now prohibiting users of medical marijuana from buying and owning firearms.
In recent years, the push to legalize marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use has gained a lot of momentum. Currently, marijuana is legal for medicinal use in 29 states plus the District of Columbia and is legal for recreational use in 7 states plus D.C. However, marijuana use is still illegal in all states under federal law, which creates the complicated legal situation the ATF is leveraging to restrict Second Amendment rights.
New to the background check firearms dealers must conduct is the question of whether the person intending to buy a firearm uses marijuana. Answer yes, and it becomes illegal for them to sell you a gun. Not only this, but some states such as Hawaii and Pennsylvania actually require medical marijuana cardholders to turn over the firearms they already possess.
Pennsylvania state police spokesman Ryan Tarkowski said, “It’s unlawful to keep possession of firearms obtained prior to registering. The Pennsylvania State Police is not in the business of offering legal advice, but it might be a good idea to contact an attorney about how best to dispose of their firearms.”
All of this brings us to the question of whether or not there is any legitimate reason why marijuana users in states where it is legal should be restricted from owning a firearm – the answer to which is a resounding no. Regardless of where you stand on the legalization of marijuana, it is ridiculous to suggest that marijuana users pose a significant enough risk to warrant restricting their Second Amendment rights. There is no such law on the books for those who consume alcohol or for those who have been prescribed medication with mind-altering side-effects. While marijuana use may lead to poor decision making, it certainly doesn’t turn its users into violent killers whose firearms need to be confiscated.
The legal justification of stripping marijuana users of their gun rights is on even shakier ground than the logical justification. The closest you could come to justifying denial of marijuana users to the right to buy a firearm from a legal standpoint is to equate them with convicted felons, who as we all know are not legally allowed to buy and own firearms. Yet medical marijuana cardholders have not been convicted of any crime, and even if they were convicted at the federal level it would likely only result in a misdemeanor conviction rather than a felony conviction.
For those who are against the legalization of marijuana, it may be difficult to feel the same indignation against the ATF restricting marijuana users from buying firearms as is often felt towards other attempts to restrict Second Amendment rights. Yet the fact still remains that this law is nothing more than a thinly veiled and poorly justified attempt to slowly encroach on the rights of the American gun owner, and it should be met with the same fiery passion from Second Amendment supporters that all gun rights issues are.
Unfortunately, there seem to be few catalysts in place that could change this law. Overturning the ATF’s stance on marijuana use and gun ownership would likely require legislation from Congress, yet thus far Congress has shown an unwillingness to touch the marijuana issue one way or another. No moves have been made to legalize it in federal law, nor have any moves been made to crack down on the states that have made it legal under state law.
Until something is done, medical marijuana users must choose between marijuana and their Second Amendment rights. For avid proponents of the Second Amendment, the choice may seem clear, but for those who truly believe that marijuana is helping their condition and improving their quality of life, the choice becomes far more difficult. This is unfortunate seeing as the choice between marijuana use in a state where it is legal and gun ownership shouldn’t have to be a choice at all.
To be sure, a situation where the federal government can revoke Second Amendment rights based on an individual’s personal choices with little to no logical or legal justification is a very concerning situation indeed and one that is deserving of our full attention.
~ American Gun News