Gun ownership and pot – updated

Update – sorry about the previous version of this post…I just copied in a link to the blog and one of the comments I left there with no explanation. I intended it to be saved as a draft, not published, it was only intended as a reminder to me, not as a standalone post and it shouldn’t have appeared as it did. The below is what I actually intended to post /Update

One of the blogs I read daily posted about the recent trend toward state level legalization of marijuana for medicinal (but it applies just as well to recreational) use and the federal prohibition against users of such substances purchasing or possessing guns.

I left a couple of comments there about it, but I thought I’d expound a little here.

There are a couple of points related to this. First, the idea that common sense can be legislated into being.

Laws are only preventative in the sense that law abiding citizens will obey them to prevent being caught up in legal issues they would prefer to avoid. This is especially true of gun owners because some of the consequences of violating those laws can involve losing the right to keep and bear arms forever. We take those consequences seriously because we take the right seriously.

So, there is some deterrent effect to having laws, but when laws are layered on top of each other, they provide no additional deterrent effect.

For example: It is illegal to spray paint graffiti onto public property. If you make it illegal to carry spray paint on public streets, will that stop the graffiti problem? Of course not. If the perpetrator has already decided that they’re willing to break the law against spray painting public property, a lesser law against carrying the tools to do so isn’t going to deter them.

A point I raised in one of my comments is worth repeating here: One of the things that anti-gun business owners never seem to grasp is that when they put that “no guns allowed sign” on their door, the only people they’re keeping out are the ones they need have no concern over.

Someone who sees that sign and says “well, the owner says I can’t come in so I won’t go in” is the very one who is determined to follow the rules and exercise good judgement. This is the person who is no danger whatsoever. The person who is prone to errors in judgement or ignoring the rules is the one who’s going to see the sign and say “screw him, I’m going in anyway”. So, what you end up with is the only people in your establishment who are armed are exactly the ones you should have been trying to keep out. As soon as that guy entered your store, everyone else there was at the mercy of the least trustworthy person in the place.

The prohibition by the federal government on ownership of firearms by people who use substances that are legal in their state of residence is no different.

The use of firearms in public while impaired is already illegal in every state and locality of which I’m aware. It doesn’t matter whether you’re impaired by alcohol, marijuana, or prescription medications, when you are under the influence, it is illegal to have a gun in public…just like it’s illegal to operate any other type of dangerous weapon, including cars, while under the influence.

The law doesn’t say you can’t own a car, or have it parked in your driveway while under the influence. Or that you can’t own a car if you ever use substances that impair judgment and performance, only that the use of them don’t mix.

Why are guns and marijuana treated differently than, say, guns and alcohol, or guns and prescription oxycontin, or guns and Nyquil? Does the law making it illegal to own a gun if you use substances that are legal at the state level really make anyone safer?

The kind of people that are irresponsible enough to use firearms, whether in public or at home, while impaired, are not going to be deterred by a law that says they can’t own a gun if they use these particular substances.

The only people that law deters are the people who are responsible enough to make good decisions and not use their firearms while impaired in the first place.

“No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him.”
–Thomas Jefferson

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