I wrote an article back in September of this year titled “Some of you just lost your right to buy a firearm… no really – I mean it!”
The gist of that article is this…
“Effective September 1st of this year the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that medical marijuana users cannot buy guns. They ruled 3-0 on Wednesday (August 31st) that a ban preventing medical marijuana card holders from purchasing firearms is NOT a violation of the 2nd Amendment!” (http://fortune.com/2016/09/01/medical-marijuana-gun/.)
The implications of that ruling and the probably difficulties in getting that ruling overturned even by the Supreme Court are detailed in my original article which I encourage you to read now before proceeding with this update.
The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) reports that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (the ATF) will soon be issuing a new version their “Firearms Transaction Record”, or Form 4473. Anyone who has ever purchased a firearm will be familiar with this form. It’s a universal Federal requirement for all purchases and transfers of the ownership of a firearm anywhere in the country.
The ATF expects to have the new Form 4473 in the hands of firearms dealers by early December, and, beginning January 16, 2017 (just four days before President Elect Donald Trump will be sworn in as our 45th President), all firearms transactions must use the new form.
There are several small changes to both the ATF’s Form 4473 and to the process of filling it out which you can read about here, but I’m writing today to draw your attention to one MAJOR change…
Per the NRA-ILA article; “Another notable change to the form is the inclusion of a bolded warning to potential transferees from the ATF. The warning provides that “the use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medical or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.” This warning is a continuation of ATF’s policy that was first published in an open letter on September 21, 2011. Under the ATF’s policy, not only are users of marijuana prohibited from possessing firearms, but a person may not transfer a firearm to an individual if the transferor knows that the transferee holds a medical marijuana card. Importantly, this second prohibition applies even where the cardholder does not actually use any marijuana.
It is also important to note that this new prohibition is NOT limited to holders of “medical marijuana cards.” The question on the new Form 4473 clearly asks; “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana, or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance”, and says nothing about “medical marijuana cards. Regardless of the laws in your state, or whether you have a medical marijuana card, in the eyes of the Federal government, the ATF and the FBI if you use, or have in the past used, marijuana then you are an “illegal user of marijuana.” Read about Wilson vs. the U.S. Government in my original article and learn of the difficulty she had in fighting this ATF ban, and her ultimate defeat at the 9th Circuit Court.
It is already a federal requirement that any Federal Firearms Dealer must “record all information from the Form 4473 into a required “bound-book” called an “Acquisition and Disposition Log. A dealer must keep this on file at least 20 years, and is required to surrender the log to the ATF upon retirement from the firearms business. The ATF is allowed to inspect, as well as request a copy of, the Form 4473 from the dealer during the course of a criminal investigation.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Form_4473)
If you have EVER (1) had a medical or recreational license to buy marijuana, or (2) been arrested for possession or use of marijuana – whether that’s legal in the state you reside in or not – then there is probably an easily accessible record of that, and you will NOT be allowed to purchase a firearm ANYWHERE IN AMERICA starting January 16th, 2017! If you answer “Yes” to Question 11.e. on AFT Form 4473 you will be considered an “unlawful user of marijuana” and denied the firearms purchase. If you answer “No” to that question you will have committed a felony. If you are caught lying on the ATF’s Form 4473 the punishment is up to five (5) years in prison and fines as specified in subsection (a) of 18 U.S. Code § 922 and subsection (a)(1)(A) of 18 U.S. Code § 924. (See https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/922, and https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/924).
“Well nobody’s going to really check for some 15-year-old conviction for minor possession”, you say? Keep in mind that the process of purchasing a firearm includes an FBI background check and a search for wants and warrants at a minimum. It’s a simple matter for the FBI to expand that check to locate any record of marijuana use in this day of computerized records – and I can just about guarantee you that’s exactly what the anti-gun lobby and the liberals that infest the Department of Justice will do! And since a Federal Firearms Dealer is required to keep their Form 4473s on file for 20 years lying on that form means a ‘smoking gun’ (pardon the pun… see what I did there?) pointed at your head for that entire time.
Further, anyone who chooses to do a little research – say a divorce lawyer, or some other person wishing to destroy your life – will easily be able to match up that lie on your Form 4473 with your shiny new medical or recreational marijuana card… or that conviction for possession you had back in college, and you’re busted.
If you get caught lying on ATF Form 4473 you will be arrested, you may do some immediate jail time and have to post a healthy felony-sized bail, and you’ll spend tens of thousands of dollars and years in court defending yourself. You may lose your job, and may have any firearms you already own confiscated. Worst of all in the end you probably will NOT win (hopefully you read my original article and will understand why I think this.)
It is unlikely that President Elect Trump will address this issue quickly, and even if he does the case can now only be decided by the Supreme Court (see my original article.) Even then the Supreme Court might choose to not overturn this ATF regulation and the supporting 9th Circuit Court ruling even if it is brought before them (again, see my original article.)
I believe that this is an effective ‘end run’ around the Second Amendment for anyone with an established record of the use and/or purchase of marijuana anywhere in the United States… and this new prohibition will probably not stop with marijuana (again see my original article.) Starting with marijuana is the proverbial ‘slippery slope’ and – unless struck down by the Supreme Court – will probably be expanded include all drugs, pain killers and narcotics – legal or illegal.