Imagine the federal government demanding to know if you were a pot smoker when you register to vote. If you incriminate yourself — even in a state with legalized marijuana — you will be denied the right to vote. And, if you lie about it, you could face up to 15 years in jail. That’s the scenario gun owners face.
Fifty-three years ago, Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act, creating a classification system for narcotics. The more fun the drug, the higher it was perched on the government’s “schedule.” Under federal law, for instance, pot was designated a Schedule I narcotic, allegedly among the most dangerous drugs with the highest potential for abuse and no medical use. Other drugs in this category are heroin and meth, and so on. They are all illegal.
Wherever you stand on pot laws, the fact is that states where marijuana has been legalized — either for medicinal or recreational purposes — are technically ignoring federal law. A law that should never have existed. There is no enumerated power that authorizes the feds to ban the sale of a plant or narcotics in states. 2004’s Gonzales v. Raich, which upheld the Controlled Substances Act on the flimsy grounds that pot falls under interstate commerce, was a travesty.
The problem here, however, is that the federal government only ignores the parts of the law it finds inconvenient, which is just another form of lawlessness.
Last week, after Minnesota officially legalized pot, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) sent out a clarification warning that people who smoke weed or take edibles are “still federally defined as an ‘unlawful user’ of a controlled substance” under the Controlled Substances Act and therefore “prohibited from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing firearms or ammunition” under the Gun Control Act of 1968.
So, while every other agency in the Biden administration simply disregards the still-illegal actions of tens of thousands of businesses and millions of users openly sell, buy, and use pot, the Justice Department simultaneously uses Schedule I as a justification to strip Americans without any criminal record of their guns rights.
One of the driving purposes of the ATF, of course, is to inhibit legal gun ownership and to enact policies Democrats have been unable to pass via legislation. It’s why Biden nominated an authoritarian like David Chipman to run the subagency not long ago. But the ATF knows well that several courts have already ruled that banning pot users from owning guns is unconstitutional.
In a recent Oklahoma case in which an employee of a marijuana dispensary was pulled over on his way to work with pot and a handgun in his car, U.S. District Judge Patrick Wyrick ruled that prosecuting someone for having a gun and pot wasn’t consistent with traditional firearm regulation — a reading of the law that has been reaffirmed by New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen decision.
During Bruen, the Biden administration unearthed a handful of local regulations from the 17th and 18th centuries banning violently intoxicated men from owning guns in a weak attempt to argue that traditional firearm laws comport with Gun Control Act’s ban for drug users. But as Wyrick correctly noted, “History and tradition support disarming persons who have demonstrated their dangerousness through past violent, forceful, or threatening conduct. There is no historical tradition of disarming a person solely based on that person having engaged in felonious conduct.”
Then, there was the recent case heard by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, which involved a woman who had a gun and marijuana. The drugs, she claimed, were used to help her sleep at night. Judge Kathleen Cardone ruled that the right to a handgun for self-defense “belongs to all Americans” — “the people” — not just the ones the government picks.
To be completely upfront, I don’t believe any non-violent drug users, especially ones who’ve never been convicted of any crime, should be denied their right to own a firearm, even if drugs haven’t been legalized in their state. Demanding people incriminate themselves to practice their rights — and then threatening to convict them if they fail to do so — is an attack on both the Second and Fifth Amendments.
This is really just a long way of saying that I have my fingers crossed that Hunter Biden, the president’s son, will be indicted on gun charges in Delaware. Among many other potential crimes, Hunter is now reportedly being investigated for allegedly lying on a 4473 federal background check form dating back to 2018.
The form asks: “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?” Hunter, who admitted to “smoking crack every 15 minutes” at the time in his touching memoir Beautiful Things, claimed he was not.
The New York Times reports that Hunter’s lawyers are invoking Bruen to “stave off” charges. I’m skeptical Hunter will be charged with a gun crime. Proving that someone knowingly misled the feds on a federal background check is difficult to prove, but the very thought of the president’s shady son using Bruen, which his father claimed “contradicts both common sense and the Constitution,” to blow up more useless and unfair gun regulation, would be some delicious irony.