NEVADA: Last Wednesday a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision that holding a marijuana card precludes its owner from keeping and bearing arms. In the process, the panel threw out the First, Second, and Fifth Amendment rights.
Rowan Wilson, a Nevada resident who held a state-issued marijuana card but didn’t use the weed, tried to purchase a firearm from Custom Firearms and Gunsmithing in Moundhouse, Nevada. She applied for the card to show her support for the freedom of people to make their own decisions about what they might or might not imbibe or inhale. It was a political statement only. It became personal when she tried in October 2011 to purchase a firearm for personal protection.
She was confronted with Question 11e on the required federal disclosure Form 4473 issued by the ATF, which reads: “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance? Yes or No.” She showed the question to the gun shop owner, who knew that she had a card, and he denied her request to purchase the firearm. It was based not only on federal laws that still make marijuana users criminals, but on an “open letter” the ATF sent to all firearm dealers holding that mere possession of the marijuana registry card was enough to allow them to prevent a potential buyer from completing the sale. That letter stated, in part:
[Anyone] who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes — is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.
Such persons should answer “yes” to question 11.e. on ATF Form 4473 … and you may not transfer firearms or ammunition to them.
Further, if you are aware that the potential transferee is in possession of a card authorizing the possession and use of marijuana under State law, then you have “reasonable cause to believe” that the person is an unlawful user of a controlled substance.
As such, you may not transfer firearms or ammunition to the person, even if the person answered “no” to question 11.e. on ATF Form 4473.