(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed) — The National Rifle Association (NRA), which fancies itself a champion of the Second Amendment and gun rights, is nowhere to be found as state governments are moving to confiscate firearms from medical marijuana patients.
Police in Honolulu, Hawaii, recently sent out a letter to 30 medical cannabis patients warning them they had 30 days to hand over their guns. When medical cannabis becomes legal in Ohio in 2018, patients will not be permitted to own or possess firearms. Similar restrictions have been imposed in California and Oregon despite state policy, and they are not new.
In 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive issued a warning that because cannabis is illegal at the federal level, patients cannot possess guns. “There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by state law,” the ATF said in 2011.
Despite the NRA’s vehemently opinionated stances on many issues, including whether or not suspected terrorists should have access to guns, the lobbying group had little to say at the time about the federal government’s infringements on cannabis patients’ gun rights, merely ‘reporting’ that “If a person admits marijuana use to a licensed firearm dealer, the dealer is prohibited from transferring a firearm to that person because the dealer will have a ‘reasonable cause to believe’ that the person is an unlawful user.”
The NRA has not responded to Anti-Media’s request for comment on the Honolulu police order for cannabis patients to turn in their guns (considering the organization’s proud support for law enforcement, this is unsurprising). In fact, the order came and went after public outcry condemned the gun grab. Honolulu police have since backtracked, saying they will not be confiscating guns but will be enforcing their policy against future cannabis users who would like to purchase a firearm.
Still, the country’s foremost representative of gun rights has had no comment.
This puts the NRA in a contradictory position. The organization has made it clear it believes the 2nd Amendment is intended to fight tyranny, an obvious reference to the American Revolution.
As Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president, said in 2013:
“I think without any doubt, if you look at why our Founding Fathers put it there, they had lived under the tyranny of King George and they wanted to make sure that these free people in this new country would never be subjugated again and have to live under tyranny.”
But during the revolution, the American rebels were largely spurred to action because of their opposition unjust laws.
In 2017, a vast majority of Americans oppose the war on cannabis, especially with respect to medicinal uses. Even Republicans now favor legalization. Yet the NRA is nowhere to be found to speak on behalf of the people and the gun owners they claim to protect while an over-bloated federal government violates the constitution to punish people for non-violently possessing a plant.
Rather, the NRA prefers to express its eternal support for law enforcement — the enforcers of unjust laws — and seems content to ignore the federal government’s violations of marijuana users’ rights simply because the federal government asserts — through unjust and outdated laws — that the plant is illegal.
But assuming laws are akin to wisdom and morality is a dangerous practice, as demonstrated by a 2016 ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that reaffirmed cannabis use and possession is grounds for infringing on the 2nd Amendment.
The court case itself was rooted in legality. A gun shop owner refused to issue a gun to a medical marijuana patient in Nevada precisely because the plant remains illegal at the federal level. In the 9th Circuit Court panel’s opinion, they cited federal law, writing:
“Turning to federal firearms provisions, under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) no person ‘who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance’ may ‘possess . . . or . . . receive any firearm or ammunition.’ In addition, it is unlawful for ‘any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person . . . is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.’”
In addition to citing legality, the panel claimed cannabis use “raises the risk of irrational or unpredictable behavior with which gun use should not be associated.”
In reality, research suggests violence and crime actually decrease in states that (illegally, according to the federal government) allow access to cannabis. In contrast, alcohol, a legal drug (according to the federal government), has well-documented, strong links to aggression, violence, and ‘irrational or unpredictable behavior.’ Because it is legal, however, gun access is not restricted to people who use the government-approved drug.
Though alcohol is far more dangerous than cannabis, alcohol gets a free pass because the federal government, which the NRA purports to mistrust, does not violently punish people for using it. The NRA remains silent when that same federal government, which, again, it believes its constituents might need to overthrow at some point, violates the 2nd Amendment. Rather than questioning laws as the glorified 18th-century American rebels did, the NRA prefers the government they mistrust simply enforce existing gun laws, like denying cannabis users their rights.
Apparently, the organization only believes in the notion of “shall not be infringed” if gun owners align with their own right-wing establishment views and law-and-order agenda, which often command submission to the very government they fantasize about overthrowing.