There are very few issues within politics that unify those on the right as does the Second Amendment. While conservatives seem very splintered over issues like foreign policy, immigration, and surveillance, the belief in the right to keep and bear arms is one that looks bonding.
Or at least on the surface that’s the case.
Many on the right love to rally around slogans like “the only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Most will picture the “good guy” being a person who is minding his own business with a legally obtained concealed weapon. Likewise, the “bad guy” is some armed thug or gang member who only has hatred in their heart and wants to hurt.
This picture that is painted is not one completely wrong, but it’s not complete. The “good guy” might not be some model citizen like the prior picture just painted. That same “good guy” leads a life that isn’t violent, but some conservatives want to ban or regulate anyway. It might not even be a lifestyle, but a mistake made when young and foolish. Then someone who would otherwise be an ideal “good guy” becomes federally prohibited from owning a firearm. It seems this would be an infringement on the same Second Amendment that conservatives claim to support.
In short, yes. It certainly would be. And that’s what happens far too often today, thanks to the War on Drugs.
It is easy to ring the bell about Second Amendment violations when some Democrat in Congress drafts a bill to ban assault weapons or regulate the legal number of rounds one in a magazine. Those attacks on gun rights are obvious, and that is why most of them don’t get far, even when Democrats posses control of most the government.
But there is another more indirect way that carries the same, if not more, weight as a complete ban on AR-15’s. Many conservatives, especially of older generations, will proudly support gun rights when it is easy and obvious, but at the same time support the illegality of marijuana. Because of the drug war, the state has been able to strip away the Second Amendment rights of thousands of Americans without any resistance from the NRA or similar gun rights groups.
Fortunately, this issue is increasingly coming to light as more states, and society as a whole, begin to alter their positions on drugs, especially marijuana. But that doesn’t mean it is becoming less of a problem.
A recent and public example of this would be the case of the Honolulu police declaring to anyone who smokes medical marijuana that they have 30 days to surrender their firearms. Even as weed becomes more legal and accepted, this case shows it isn’t without strings attached. In Hawaii, medial cannabis users are required to register with the state. The same goes for firearm owners. Because marijuana users are still seen as “irrational” or “unstable” in the eyes of many, local, state, and federal governments use public safety fears as a way around the Second Amendment. Even though this fear is not actually rooted in science, the federal government still classifies pot on the same level as heroine. This makes it easy for governments to toy with public anxieties.
Now, the Honolulu police department did recently back off of their warning to residents to surrender their guns. But the greater danger is present.
This is not the first or an isolated incident surrounding marijuana users’ right to self defense. In late summer of 2017, an appeals court ruled that the ban on medical marijuana users from purchasing guns is not a violation of the Second Amendment.
Clearly, the Second Amendment didn’t outline a provision saying “… shall not be infringed, unless you like to smoke pot,” which means this ruling is not based in the constitution.
According to the 9th Circuit Court of appeals, “it is beyond dispute that illegal drug users, including marijuana users, are likely as a consequence of that use to experience altered or impaired mental states that affect their judgment and that can lead to irrational or unpredictable behavior.”
One must see the irony in classifying marijuana users as “irrational or unpredictable” and obviously can’t control their behavior, even when sober. That said, the court sees no reason to bundle anyone who drinks alcohol in the same category.
This decision was made in a case of a woman from Nevada who attempted to purchase a firearm with a medical marijuana card but was barred from it. It should be noted that the woman maintains that she didn’t actually use marijuana, but obtained a card to vocalize her support for legalization.
Perhaps the obvious and agregious violation is one most don’t even consider. If you are caught with growing, selling, or in possession of marijuana, it could land you a felony charge and years in prison. If you do receive a felony, you may never be able to obtain a firearm or any form of ammunition ever again, even if you are out. This is not just an infringement on the Second Amendment, but touches on the greater issue our criminal justice system has. Even if you accept the outrageous sentence you can receive from a marijuana charge, the way you are treated after time is served is indefensible.
We expect nonviolent felons to reintegrate and become productive members of society yet we treat them like we want them to go back to prison.
If an individual is free, and did not harm anyone to result in their imprisonment, there is no reason they shouldn’t see a full restoration of their rights. That is the most crucial part of reintegration, yet it is the part most overlooked.
With many groups and politicians claiming they want to protect your gun rights, there is more often than not a caveat. They are willing to protect your rights, so long as you conform to their ideal lifestyle.
Your rights don’t come with exceptions. The hysteria and misinformation surrounding marijuana isn’t based in logic or reason or scientific fact, but fear. Instead of judging people based on the crimes they commit, marijuana users are judged based on the crimes they could *potentially* commit, even though that argument isn’t equally applied to similar lifestyle choices.
We don’t restrict anyone who likes to drink from owning a firearm because we know there is a difference in those who are reckless with their alcohol and those who drink responsibly. That same standard must be applied to marijuana users.
Until the war on drugs is over, we must work to reform the current justice system to make it favorable to both gun owners and pot smokers at the same time. Conservatives and Libertarians are the prime candidates to lead this fight, if they stick to their convictions. Restoring the rights of non-violent felons, making it possible for medical cannabis card holders to purchase firearms, and working to legalize marijuana state by state are some steps that we can make happen sooner rather than later.
So long as the war on drugs exists, otherwise harmless and productive members of society will continue to have their rights violated and their life ruined. For any American who cares about liberty, the right to self defense, and the livelihoods of peaceful, everyday citizens, ending the Drug War must become a top priority. Only then can the Second Amendment truly be protected.