The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco (naturally), last week approved another step the Obama administration has taken to limit the right to own a gun, though guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. When the Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the Second Amendment to the Constitution prohibits both federal and state governments arbitrarily interfering with the right of individual Americans to “keep and bear arms,” it recognized that every constitutional right is subject to “reasonable restrictions.”
The Obama administration began looking for loopholes in the Constitution, all to limit gun ownership with executive orders, reinterpreted regulatory requirements and whatever else creative bureaucrats could devise to harass gun owners and gun dealers. Many of these new restrictions are far from reasonable and unless Democrats can deliver on their promise to turn the court into an instrument of “progressive” liberalism, will no doubt be struck down.
In 2011, when many states had made so-called medical marijuana legal to own, the lawyers at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms realized they might use the fact that under federal law, marijuana remains illegal even for medical purposes, and in September 2011 the agency sent a warning to gun dealers that anyone using a prescription to obtain pot for medicinal purposes is a criminal drug user ineligible to buy or own a gun under federal law.
U.S. attorneys in the various states had earlier made this warning, and gun owners were told they were liable under federal law from buying or owning a gun and could be sent to prison for it. The uproar over the warning — American spunk is not quite dead yet — led some U.S. attorneys to say that the government didn’t then intend to prosecute every one with a prescription and a gun, but would instead target gun dealers. Such assurances aside, the agency’s letter and interpretation of the law put hundreds of gun dealers and thousands of gun owners, shooters and hunters at risk of criminal indictment.
A Nevada woman, holder of a medical marijuana card, who had been denied a gun by a Nevada dealer, sued, arguing that her rights had been abridged. The result was the decision handed down last week, decreeing that the use of marijuana even for legal medicinal purposes makes it more likely that someone would use a gun for illegal and dangerous purposes.
Mr. Obama obviously hates guns, but not marijuana. He has said that he, too, was once a pothead, but he will send government lawyers to court to argue that someone who uses marijuana for legitimate medical purposes is as dangerous as, perforce, a Chicago gangbanger, and must therefore be denied the rights guaranteed to others under the Constitution. It’s what we have come to expect from President Obama, and another example of why Mr. Obama’s judicial appointments are so important.