The Their View headline, “Booze, guns, and big pharma” immediately caught my eye. I first thought this might be a funny column rather like the old joke about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) where the punch line is “sounds like a party, who is bringing the chips?”
Apparently this is exactly how Gery Deer views gun owners, and especially concealed handgun license holders; partiers with guns, booze and now medical marijuana. The column soon degenerated into the typical diatribe against gun owners and the concealed carry movement, plus a dose of money in politics. In short, the piece was long on assertions, assumptions, and short on real facts.
No doubt there are a certain number of people mixing prescription drugs or alcohol with the use of firearms. There may be many more behind the wheel of an automobile and operating other machinery. Unlike a DUI charge, there is no minimum standard for alcohol and firearms. Any consumption could result in a charge for a gun owner. Concealed handgun license (CHL) holders are allowed to carry into restaurants where alcohol is served so long as they don’t consume or are under the influence of alcohol.
The Ohio concealed carry law went into effect in April 2000; the ability to carry into areas where alcohol is present added later. By all accounts, including the quarterly Ohio Attorney General concealed carry statistical reports, the CHL law has been successful.
Deer addresses the recent legalization of medical marijuana as “people totally off the rails about the med-pot issue and how it relates to firearms.” While it is new to Ohio, the issue has been addressed by the BATFE as medical marijuana laws were enacted in other states. The BATFE issued an open letter to federal firearms license dealers in 2011. The letter can be found on their website www.atf.gov.
The letter states, in part, “As you know, Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3), prohibits any person who is an ‘unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance (as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802)’ from shipping, transporting, receiving or possessing firearms or ammunition. Marijuana is listed in the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I controlled substance, and there are no exceptions in Federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by State law. Further, Federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(3), makes it unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance.”
Translation: If you are a medical marijuana user, you can’t own firearms. And if you can’t own firearms, it follows that you will be prohibited from obtaining or keeping a CHL.
Deer takes Ohio Attorney General (AG) Mike DeWine to task for his recent ruling that Ohioans can’t obtain a CHL if they use medical marijuana. Apparently Deer feels the AG position is somehow related to DeWine’s candidacy for Governor. Well, here’s a news flash for you. The AG is the top law enforcement official in Ohio. As such the AG is responsible for enforcing our laws.
The AG does not make the law. I learned that back when our schools actually taught Ohio history and American government many years ago. Ohio law doesn’t provide for any drug testing to obtain a CHL. It never has so there is nothing new here relating to medical marijuana. Whether there should be drug testing, perhaps for a CHL or a driver’s license, is an issue for the Ohio General Assembly, which makes our laws. Obviously Mr. Deer wants someone else to do the heavy lifting of advocating for law changes for him.
Deer asserts that every hunter or CHL holder must have a camo pickup truck loaded with booze, specially Jack Daniels and Budweiser. He refers to us as “rubes” so we are all hicks and country bumpkins in his view. But that is simply the lead-in to his assertion that no one is pushing a ban on people who drink from getting a firearms license. Well no because it is already in Ohio law. I’ll not bore the reader by repeating the law. Anyone can look it up in Ohio Revised Code 2923.13. Even us “rubes” with pickup trucks in Jamestown can understand it.
Mr. Deer also asserts that having armed citizens spun up on booze or pain medicines somehow appears acceptable to law enforcement and the public. Without a doubt, this is one of the most preposterous statements I’ve ever read in my local newspaper. Our law enforcement and first responders deal with the issues of illegal drug use and overdoses daily. I know several area law enforcement and first responders personally, so I’ll go out on a limb and suggest they think this statement is hogwash. Or if you prefer the more “rube” use – slop.
The problem is Mr. Deer doesn’t recognize any difference between the law-abiding gun owner and the criminal illegal use of firearms. We are all being lumped into a redneck, irresponsible, uneducated bunch who, if we are not already criminals, certainly will be the next time we drive a pickup truck off the farm. This is ignoring that the CHL holders are the most law-abiding who have been fingerprinted and background checked before being issued a CH. It’s hypocrisy and elitism with an real attempt at fear-mongering which adds up to a sad opinion piece.
Larry Moore is a local resident and longtime outdoor columnist.