Well, the federal government is at it again — overreaching, encroaching and arbitrarily dictating to states and businesses — this time in regards to the Second Amendment.
In September, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms sent out an “Open Letter to All Federal Firearms Licensees” that they are not allowed under any circumstances to sell ammunition or firearms to people who use marijuana, even if those people are in compliance with a state law that allows them to use marijuana for medical purposes.
Never mind medical marijuana card holders. This is not only about them, but about liberty. The ATF and the Justice Department are way out of line in warning businesses that they are responsible for determining whether there is “reasonable cause to believe” a gun purchaser smokes marijuana. That is just plain silly, not to mention dangerous.
Enlisting gun stores like Snappy Sport Senter and the Sportsman & Ski Haus to enforce a random new policy that was enacted by bureaucrats with no legislative or public review is outrageously unconstitutional. What’s next? Will the guy at the gun counter be responsible for marijuana testing, and if so, why shouldn’t he be responsible for testing customers for other drugs, too?
The feds got their foot in the door by requiring licensed gun dealers to carry out background checks, but this is taking the enforcement imposition on the private sector to a whole new level.
Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock appropriately responded to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, maintaining that the policy violates the Second Amendment, which doesn’t say anything about gun owners and controlled substances. It’s arguable that a dope smoking hunter is no more of a menace to society than a beer-guzzling hunter, who isn’t restricted in any fashion.
Bullock contends that it’s a violation of the Fifth Amendment as well, because a gun purchaser shouldn’t be subjected to self-incrimination by answering a marijuana question on government paperwork. Incrimination is a burden of the state, not the gun customer nor the seller — at least according to our U.S. Constitution.
True enough, a person who engages in an illegal marijuana transaction with a firearm somehow involved may be in violation of federal laws with fairly severe consequences, and it’s long been established that felons cannot possess firearms. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. The vast majority of marijuana possession convictions are misdemeanors, and people who smoke marijuana are undeniably a common presence in this country. The government’s ploy of turning those legal marijuana users into a boogieman in order to extend gun restrictions and create a broad new criminal class is frightening.
If Eric Holder won’t back down, then Bullock and the state of Montana need to seek justice elsewhere — whether in the Supreme Court or in Congress. This federal imposition must not stand.