As states such as Washington, Nevada, and Colorado begin to allow legal marijuana, they are also beginning to buckle down on gun ownership laws. But what happens when the two laws collide? This situation became prevalent when S. Rowan Williams, a woman from Nevada, was denied the ability to purchase a gun when her background check had shown she was a marijuana card holder in 2011. Williams was appalled and later went on to sue the U.S. Attorney General stating that her second amendment had been infringed upon. Though Williams was right that she does hold the right to the second amendment as a second citizen, she was wrong in the fact that the store owner was not unconstitutional in refusing her service.
Even if a state does not consider a marijuana use illegal it is still considered to be illegal under federal law, so no rights were infringed upon. This action was supported by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who ruled that any marijuana card holders were not allowed to own guns. They went to support their decision with this quote:
“Individuals who used marijuana or marijuana and cocaine, in addition to alcohol, were significantly more likely to engage in a violent crime than individuals who only used alcohol.”
But Williams is not alone in finding her gun ownership no longer a reality. There have also been a series of officers in Illinois receiving letters to turn in their guns if they are marijuana cardholders. These cases have been sparking a conversation throughout the nation about the growing disconnect between state and federal laws. With mass shootings becoming an almost daily news story, it’s no wonder Congress would be unwilling to budge when it comes to relaxing on gun laws. Despite the shootings, states such as Colorado are agreeing with William’s plight. Not to mention, fifty-three percent of Americans supporting legalizing the taboo drug. If more and more states legalizing marijuana more issues with the coinciding gun laws will grow, with that type of support for legalization, pressure will be added onto law enforcement to make some changes.
But as of right now as valid as the opposing arguments may seem the fact of the matter falls upon the U.S. Attorney General’s response to Williams which is “the argument cannot overturn Congress”.
As laws change from state to state it is important for citizens to stay educated on how their state laws coincide with federal laws. If citizens feel passionate about the ability to be both a marijuana and gun carrier they will need to talk with their Congressman and urge them to make a negotiation for their second amendment rights. This will also be prevalent to any card holders with medical needs but are also concerned about their safety. As the Election Day closes in it is imperative for citizens to be aware of what candidates are most aware of this drug and gun issue, and what their ideas will do to fix the problem.