In many states, if you have a valid carry permit, you can present that and skip the NICS check. The reasoning is simple. If you have a permit, you’ve already undergone the relevant check. It’s not rocket surgery or anything.
However, the ATF is who gets to decide which states’ permits are good for background checks and which aren’t.
Some states lose that status from time to time. Most famously is Alabama, which lost theirs when it became known that some sheriffs were issuing permits without any background check at all.
That’s not the only reason that can happen, either. Just ask Michigan, apparently.
Like a number of states, concealed pistol license holders in Michigan are exempted from the requirement to undergo a NICS background check every time they purchase a new firearm. That’s because permit holders have already undergone an extensive background check and fingerprinting in order to be issued a permit in the first place.
Michigan has had that exemption from the ATF since 2006, but yesterday the ATF rescinded it.
Why? Because recreational marijuana is now legal in the state. Voters approved legalization in 2018 and retail sales started December 1, 2019.
Now, because the state of Michigan is issuing CPLs to people who use marijuana, the ATF sent the following letter yesterday notifying all of the state’s FFLs that Michigan CPL holders are no longer exempted from the background check requirement.
Unfortunately, this is kind of what happens when a state legalizes something that’s still illegal at the federal level. While I don’t agree with the ATF’s decision, this kind of conflict isn’t new. Not too long ago, the city of Honolulu demanded those with medical marijuana cards turn in their guns. That wasn’t even the first example.
To make matter worse, the courts typically find that governments can infringe on the rights of people using “legal” marijuana since it’s still prohibited at the federal level.
The only way to solve this and prevent future conflicts is for the federal government to change the law so marijuana can at least be considered on a state-by-state basis. While that’s the status quo in all but law, that lack of law is where the problems are coming from. It allows governmental entities to hammer people who may be using marijuana in accordance with state law and may also want to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
It’s enough to make a libertarian feel targeted, truth be told.
Oh, it’s not anything that nefarious, but I can see why someone might feel obliged to wonder otherwise. Yet one important point is being missed by the ATF in all of this. Those who only use marijuana in states where that drug is legal are usually not the ones who represent some kind of a major problem for public safety.
Hell, your typical marijuana user is really only a threat to the snack food aisle at the local stop-and-rob. They’re going to devour all the Doritos then focus on the Ruffles. They’re not going to rob anyone or anything of the sort. They’re too stoned for that.
So yeah, it’s well past time for the law to change at the federal level to end this kind of stupid. It’s only too bad that it won’t happen.