Court Rules Drug Users Can Own Guns

( — A federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled last Wednesday that a decades-old federal law barring illegal drug users from owning firearms is unconstitutional, Reuters reported.

A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction of Patrick Daniels, who was sentenced to four years in prison under the longstanding law after police found a semi-automatic rifle and pistol in his vehicle along with marijuana during a traffic stop.

While he acknowledged occasionally smoking marijuana, Daniels was not driving under the influence at the time.

Last year, while his appeal was pending, the Supreme Court ruled in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, protecting an individual’s right to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense. The decision established that restrictions on the right to carry must be “consistent” with the country’s “historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

In last week’s decision, 5th Circuit Appeals Court Judge Jerry Smith said the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision invalidated the statute under which Daniels was convicted.

Smith wrote that while the country’s “historical tradition” might support some limits on the rights of an intoxicated person to carry a firearm, “it does not justify disarming a sober citizen” based entirely on his previous drug use.

In his concurring opinion, Appeals Court Judge Stephen Higginson noted that the Bruen decision will likely lead to other gun laws being struck down.

Higginson urged the Supreme Court to provide further guidance when it takes up a case it agreed to hear in the next term. He said otherwise, the Bruen decision could lead to the “dismantling” of many other laws “that have served to protect our country for generations.”

According to ABC News, the 5th Circuit Court is the highest federal court to hand down a decision on the Second Amendment since the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen.

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