Fifth Circuit Overturns Law Banning Guns for Drug Users

One of the weird contradictions in American law is that the federal government is basically doing nothing to enforce laws against marijuana use in states that legalized it, they’ll still hammer anyone who does so while owning guns.

To be fair, gun ownership by those who use federally prohibited substances is actually illegal, so it’s not like they just made up something to hammer folks. Still, it’s stupid.

Unless, of course, you’re Hunter Biden, in which case you’re looking at little more than a slap on the wrist.

However, according to the Fifth Circuit, you can’t prohibit people who use drugs from owning guns.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit on Wednesday voided a federal law preventing unlawful drug users from possessing guns, citing the Supreme Court‘s landmark decision from last year.
The decision only affects Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi but means the man who brought the challenge, Patrick Daniels, will have his July 2022 conviction under the law tossed out. He has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison and three years of probation after he was arrested in April 2022 after law enforcement officers searched his car and found marijuana along with two loaded firearms.
The case is known as U.S. v. Daniels, and the decision was written by Judge Jerry Smith, joined by Judges Stephen Higginson and Don Willett. Together they held the law violated the Second Amendment and did not align with the Supreme Court’s test established in Bruen v. New York Rifle & Pistol Association, which established that firearms laws must conform with the nation’s “historical tradition of firearm regulation.”
“Just as there was no historical justification for disarming a citizen of sound mind, there is no tradition that supports disarming a sober citizen who is not currently under an impairing influence,” Smith wrote. “Indeed, it is helpful to compare the tradition surrounding the insane and the tradition surrounding the intoxicated side-by-side.”
The federal statute applied not only when a person is intoxicated but also when they are sober and in possession of a controlled substance.
The opinion goes on to suggest that the founders “institutionalized the insane and stripped them of their guns; but they allowed alcoholics to possess firearms while sober.”

The opinion isn’t wrong, either, and based on the history and text test laid out in Bruen, the finding sure looks to be absolutely correct.

Now, the bad news is that this is only applicable in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi and not the nation as a whole. Even so, should this be taken further up the judicial chain until the Supreme Court hears the case, then that could spell good news for those who use marijuana lawfully.

As things stand, they still face federal gun charges for possessing a firearm while also possessing a federally controlled substance. That really shouldn’t be the case at all, especially since that substance is legal in their home state.

This has also been used as a cudgel by anti-gun jurisdictions that have sought to disarm those who went through all the legal steps to use marijuana. This ruling would suggest that such actions are unconstitutional. Many of us already knew that, but we now have some judicial firepower to back that belief up.

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