Washington Gun Law

Fifth Circuit Invalidates Federal Gun Law Prohibiting Cannabis Users from Owning Firearms

Video Highlights

  • The fifth circuit of the United States court of appeals has declared 18 USC section 922 G3 unconstitutional, which prohibits cannabis users from possessing firearms.
  • The court found that this prohibition violates the Second Amendment right of individuals to bear arms.
  • The court rejected arguments that only law-abiding citizens have the right to bear arms, stating that the phrase "the people" in the Second Amendment refers to all members of the political community.
  • The court also found that historical analogies to laws disarming intoxicated individuals, the mentally ill, and those adjudicated as dangerous or disloyal did not justify the prohibition on non-violent drug users.
  • This ruling is likely to be appealed, but it highlights the ongoing debate over gun laws and the rights of cannabis users in the United States.

Video Summary

In a recent ruling, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down a federal gun law that prohibited cannabis users from owning firearms. This decision marks another blow to what were once thought to be well-established gun laws, as the court has shown a willingness to re-examine and overturn these laws. The case in question, United States v. Daniels, involved a man who was pulled over by law enforcement and found to be in possession of firearms. During the investigation, it was revealed that he was a regular user of marijuana. As a result, he was convicted under 18 United States Code Section 922 G3, which makes it unlawful for illegal users or addicts of controlled substances to possess firearms.

Since the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Castleman, there has been a re-evaluation of many gun laws, including the pre-trial conditions of release that require the forfeiture of firearms. The Fifth Circuit has been at the forefront of this re-analysis, and in this case, they have determined that Section 922 G3 is unconstitutional. The court found that the law violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms, as it disarmed a sober citizen based solely on his past drug usage. The court concluded that while there may be limits on an intoxicated person's right to carry a weapon, disarming a sober citizen with a history of drug use is not justified.

The United States government put forth several arguments in defense of the law, but the court was not persuaded. One argument was that the right to bear arms only applies to law-abiding citizens, and since Daniels was a marijuana user, he was not a lawful citizen. The court rejected this argument, stating that the right to bear arms is held by all members of the political community, not just a select group of upright citizens. Another argument was that the law was justified by a long-standing tradition of disarming dangerous individuals. However, the court found that the government had failed to establish a relevant historical analog for Section 922 G3.

The court compared the law to restrictions on carrying firearms while intoxicated and found some similarity, as both involve impaired judgment. However, the court noted that the how of the law was different. While individuals who are intoxicated by alcohol cannot possess a firearm at that time, marijuana users are prohibited from possessing a firearm at any time, even if they only use cannabis sporadically for medicinal purposes. The court also rejected the government's comparisons to laws disarming the mentally ill and laws disarming those adjudicated as dangerous or disloyal, finding that these comparisons could only justify disarming individuals in a comparable state to lunacy.

Ultimately, the court concluded that Section 922 G3 contradicted the plain text of the Second Amendment and struck down the law as unconstitutional. This ruling is significant, as it recognizes the rights of cannabis users to possess firearms and calls into question the legitimacy of other gun laws that infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens. It remains to be seen if this decision will be appealed to an en banc panel of the Fifth Circuit or if it will have broader implications for gun laws across the country.

In conclusion, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has once again challenged a longstanding gun law, this time finding that the prohibition against cannabis users owning firearms is unconstitutional. This ruling highlights the need to re-evaluate and revise existing gun laws to ensure they do not infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens. As the court noted, when the correct standard of review is applied to these gun control laws, the correct conclusion is often reached, and that is to protect the rights of individuals to bear arms. It will be interesting to see how this ruling impacts future gun law cases and whether other courts will follow suit in striking down similar laws.