21 Dec 18

Drugs and Guns!

Students ask:

“When I own guns, do I need to become a teetotaler?”

The companion question is:

“When I own guns, do I need to abstain from all contact with marijuana? For that matter, how about other consciousness-altering drugs, even ones I take by prescription?”

My reply:

Any time you’re involved in a shooting incident, accidental or intentional, even in a case of otherwise justifiable self-defense, responding police will probably at some point administer a breath-test.

When you blow anything but a 00, it is safe to say that evidence will not be “helpful” to your case!

However, I’ve never heard of anyone being charged with “Possession of a Firearm While Intoxicated” (a misdemeanor in most states) when the event takes place in the gun-owner’s home, and all other behavior on the part of the gun-owner is lawful and reasonable.

In fact, I’ve rarely heard of a prosecution of any person who has been drinking and simultaneously in possession of a firearm, unless he was doing something else unlawful or stupid, like verbally threatening people, brandishing weapons absent good cause, driving erratically, etc.

The vast majority of people I know who consume alcoholic beverages are not “alcoholics,” nor “problem drinkers.” Most have never been arrested for DUI, nor are they ever likely to be.

People who occasionally consume alcoholic beverages, but are not alcoholics, are probably not going to radically change personal habits when they decide to buy a gun, any more than they will decide to stop driving.

In fact, a single DUI conviction will not automatically block gun purchases at NICS, at least in CO (multiple DUI convictions will). And, there is no question on Federal Form 4473 (required of all retail gun purchasers) that asks,

“Are you an alcoholic?”

My advise is to minimize the likelihood that you will have significant levels of ethyl alcohol (ETOH) in your system any time you handle/carry guns, and of course do your best to be a “good and reasonable person,” whether you have ETOH in your system or not.

In this country, we enjoy the freedom to keep and bear arms, and we also enjoy the freedom to consume beverages containing ETOH.

My advise is:

Enjoy these two freedoms as you wish, just not at the same time!

After the first drink, it’s time to lock-up the guns.

Don’t like it?

Too bad!

One simply cannot enjoy the exercise of all freedoms at the same time, as noted above.

Want to “go armed” every waking minute of the day?

Then, you get to be a teetotaler. I don’t know another way!

With regard to marijuana, there IS a question on Form 4473 form that asks:

“Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”

BATF’s policy is:

“We believe it is illegal to purchase, and probably to even possess, any firearm when you use marijuana”

So at the federal level, “unlawful marijuana” is a redundancy! All marijuana is unlawful, and conflicts between state and federal law are of no interest to BATF. Lying on Form 4473 is a sure way to end-up in federal prison!

Some bona-fide authorities insist that marijuana is legitimately useful in treating serious pain.

Others, every bit as authoritative, insist marijuana is of no use whatever in treatment of pain, and indeed has no legitimate medical application at all.

Frankly, I don’t know!

Who use marijuana for non-serious, “recreational” purposes are well-advised to have nothing to do with firearms of any kind. Don’t try to buy them. Don’t own them. Don’t have them in your home. Stay away from them. .

Who use marijuana for what they believe to be legitimate pain therapy do so at great risk, but it is probably best to lock-up all guns in a separate room. Marijuana itself needs to be kept in a locked container.

When marijuana and guns are discovered in close proximity (in the same room), a charge of “Illegal Drugs with Guns Present” (a felony in most states) is extremely likely!

In the experience of most lawyers I know, marijuana and guns (in close proximity) are not mixing well in charging decisions!

With regard to prescription drugs that are also consciousness-altering, we all have to apply common sense.

When the bottle says, “Do not drive after taking this medicine,” most reasonable people would conclude that
carrying a gun after taking this medicine is probably also a bad idea!

The foregoing is intended as “guidance.” I believe it represents sound advice, but adhering to it is no guarantee that nothing bad will happen to you!

Yet, of this you can be sure:

Law are duly voted-on and passed by legislative bodies in this country.

They’re then “on the books.”

Heaven knows they’re not perfect, and no law is fair to all people at all times.

But, when obedience to laws becomes “optional,” we descend, by a short route, into anarchy and chaos, and we can kiss our civilization, imperfect as it is, good-by!