A federal judge in Oklahoma has ruled that a law that bars marijuana users from owning firearms is unconstitutional. The ruling was handed down on Friday by U.S. District Judge Patrick Wyrick, who was hearing the case brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Jared Harrison. Harrison was charged in August for violating a federal law that bans “unlawful users or addicts of controlled substances” from possessing firearms.
The case is one of several challenges to gun regulations following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which established a test that judges across the country must now apply when determining whether gun control laws are unconstitutional. The test states that such laws must be “consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm ownership.”
The federal government tried using a law that was passed to aid with "the discovery of [Indian] plots" as historical justification for banning gun possession by marijuana users: pic.twitter.com/DH0zPq1L9S
— Rob Romano (@2Aupdates) February 4, 2023
In his ruling, Judge Wyrick agreed with Harrison’s lawyers, who argued that the portion of federal firearms law focused on drug users was part of the American historical tradition of firearm regulation.
On the other hand, DOJ prosecutors argued that the law was “consistent with a longstanding historical tradition in America of disarming presumptively risky persons, namely, felons, the mentally ill, and the intoxicated.”
The judge disagreed with the prosecutors, ruling that the argument that the defendant’s status as a marijuana user “justifies stripping him of his fundamental right to possess a firearm is not a constitutionally permissible means of disarming” the defendant.
The judge added that “the mere use of marijuana carries none of the characteristics that the Nation’s history and tradition of firearms regulation supports.”
Laura Deskin, Harrison’s public defender, called the ruling a “step in the right direction for a large number of Americans who deserve the right to bear arms and protect their homes just like any other American.” The federal government is expected to appeal the decision.
This ruling follows another ruling by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last week, which stated that people with domestic violence restraining orders have a constitutional right to own firearms. These two rulings, along with the Bruen test, are expected to continue to challenge the thicket of gun laws in the United States that infringe on fundamental human rights.