At a campaign event in Tucson, Arizona over the weekend, the struggling presidential candidate declared that he wants to legalize cannabis while banning the most commonly sold rifle in America, mandating a federal gun license, and instituting a host of other gun control laws. It’s amazing to me that O’Rourke is unwilling or unable to admit that his policies would enact a War on Guns, even while ending the War on Pot.
“We have allowed for far too long the NRA and those who may have purchased and are complicit with the violence we see in America, in Congress who have functionally prevented the Centers for Disease Control from even studying gun violence in America and who prevented universal background checks, red flag laws,” he said.
“We will have universal background checks, we will have red flag laws, we will have mandatory licensing and registration and we will buy back those AR-15s which belong on the battlefield, but not in our lives.”
Beto says any violation of his gun ban and compensated confiscation program would lead to a fine, not prison time, but what about those who would violate his mandatory licensing and registration schemes? Fines for them as well, or would violating that law put otherwise legal gun owners behind bars? So far, O’Rourke hasn’t said.
Meanwhile, when it comes to cannabis, O’Rourke has adopted a “Come and Smoke Them” mentality.
“We need to not only end the prohibition on marijuana, but also repair the damage done to the communities of color disproportionately locked up in our criminal justice system or locked out of opportunity because of the War on Drugs,” O’Rourke said in a prepared statement. “These inequalities have compounded for decades, as predominantly white communities have been given the vast majority of lucrative business opportunities, while communities of color still face over-policing and criminalization. It’s our responsibility to begin to remedy the injustices of the past and help the people and communities most impacted by this misguided war.”
O’Rourke’s campaign said he would seek to regulate marijuana similarly to how alcohol is regulated, including limiting sales to adults and conducting advertising focused on deterring use by children and driving under the influence.
Speaking personally, I’m fine with legalizing cannabis. It’s the criminalizing of the right to keep and bear arms that I have a problem with, and if Beto were really serious about addressing the inequalities in our criminal justice system, he’d be backing away from his anti-gun proposals, because they are going to have the same disproportionate impact on young minority males, as I point out in a column for Inside Sources.
In New York City, Emily Bazelon of Slate recently spent several months attending the Brooklyn Gun Court and found that many of the young black men facing a minimum of 3½ years for merely possessing a gun without a state license had no prior felony convictions.
“Here’s what predicted who ended up on the benches in gun court: race and age,” she writes. “Black people are less likely to own guns than white people, but the defendants in gun court were almost all black teenagers and young men. An initiative that sounded like a targeted attack on America’s gun problem looked up close more like stop-and-frisk or the war on drugs — one more way to round up young black men.”
If Beto O’Rourke thinks that his gun control plans, including a national licensing and registration scheme, wouldn’t be primarily enforced against young black and Hispanic males in Democrat-controlled cities, I can’t help but wonder if he’s getting high on his own supply. He’s promising an end to the “injustices of the past”, but is campaigning on creating new injustices for the future.