I suppose we should have seen this one coming. There was bound to be some sort of intersection between the Second Amendment and the ongoing, state vs. federal battle over marijuana legalization, and now it’s happened in Nevada. A woman with a medical marijuana card attempted to purchase a firearm and was denied based on the fact that she was a registered (and legal) marijuana user. (ABC News)
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday the ban does not violate the 2nd Amendment.
The ruling applies to the nine Western states that fall under the court’s jurisdiction, including California, Washington and Oregon.
It came in a lawsuit filed by S. Rowan Wilson, a Nevada woman who tried to buy a firearm in 2011 after obtaining a medical marijuana card.
It’s hard to pin too much blame on the gun shop in this case. They have a myriad of byzantine laws they have to follow when screening prospective customers and if they’re found to have skipped dotting an i or crossing a t, gun rights opponents will make sure they are put out of business quickly. It’s a strict, but necessary system which keeps the violent felons and other bad guys from obtaining guns, but liberals have managed to expand those laws in some states to catch up all sorts of people. The fact that a dealer can’t sell a weapon to “illegal drug users” no doubt put the gun shop in a tough position.
Since marijuana is now legal in so many states, either for restricted medical use or recreational consumption, more and more people are openly purchasing it. But federal law still classifies it as a dangerous, illegal drug, though federal agents are pretty much done going after recreational users. So what is the gun shop supposed to do? I suppose the better question might be how they found out that Ms. Wilson had a medical marijuana card in the first place. Do they ask that question on the application form or is there some list of card holders being circulated to all the gun shops?
Still, this sounds like the sort of thing which could be sorted out in court if it’s truly a misunderstanding and the judge has a sympathetic ear. But as Fox News reported, the judge’s ruling was pretty much the opposite of that.
In addition, a ban on the sale of guns to marijuana and other drug users is reasonable because the use of such drugs “raises the risk of irrational or unpredictable behavior with which gun use should not be associated,” Senior District Judge Jed Rakoff said.
If the use of marijuana (not trafficking, previous arrests for or incidents of violence) in places where it’s legal serves as reasonable cause to deny a gun permit because of the risk of “irrational or unpredictable behavior” then what about alcohol? The judge need look no further than a few episodes of Cops to see the nonsense which drunk people get up to on a regular basis. The only difference is that you don’t need a special card to purchase booze once you’ve reached the minimum legal age. Having that card in Nevada is not an admission of committing a crime in the state, but is a de facto confession to violating federal law.
If you’re waiting for me to come up with an answer to this puzzle, I don’t have one. The judge’s reasoning certainly looks bizarre, but the concerns of the gun dealer are completely valid. Until we get federal drug laws in line with state laws we may be stuck with this conflict for the foreseeable future.