For those of you who read this in the paper, there are a number of people who respond regularly to not just my columns but to others as well. Collectively, I call them "The Antagonists."
I read their comments dutifully, but occasionally respond to their rants. In some cases, any attempt to discuss is met with greater rants. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes just shake my head in wonderment, but I rarely take the name calling and anti-liberal remarks personally.
However, last week I received an argument that needs to be addressed in this column. Last week I wrote about the newest attempt in Missouri to nullify federal gun control law. I received support and condemnation, so feel I did a good job in explaining myself. But one argument seemed to appear more often than others.
Simply stated: Isn’t the passing of laws legalizing marijuana also attempting to nullify federal law?
The answer to that is “No.” There are two major differences between federal gun law nullification and the legalization of pot, as done in Colorado or reduced to simple misdemeanors by cities like Columbia. Our proposed law states that the federal gun law will not be recognized within the state of Missouri and any attempt to enforce federal laws could be met with legal action.
The new rules concerning the non-criminalization of marijuana state that Missouri or local laws will no longer consider the possession of certain amounts of the drug a crime. In Colorado, sale and recreational use of marijuana is now legal without fear of arrest by state or local officials. The feds on the other hand…
The state and local decriminalization of marijuana does not nullify nor attempt to nullify federal law and none threaten legal action, civil or criminal, for enforcing federal law.
The fact that the federal government is taking a wait-and-see attitude on the carrying of small amounts of marijuana for personal or medicinal use in some jurisdictions is really quite progressive. In Colorado, the sale of marijuana is heavily taxed, adding to the state’s coffers. In the near future, the growing and cultivation of marijuana for sale in a Colorado licensed store will be permitted. The feds have said that they are waiting for the drugs to travel interstate before they will consider taking action.
That position is not under the threat of a state law but the realization that the use of marijuana as a recreational drug is not too different than alcohol. Limit the age of the buyers and users, tax the heck out of the sale and license the dealers. Fewer non-violent criminals in jail for otherwise minor offenses, but… if you screw up, you will be punished to the extent of the law.
The proposed gun law nullification misses a few things. It is designed to nullify gun control or limitation laws in the name of state’s rights. To be like the marijuana laws, the proposed bill needs to be written with that in mind, that Missouri will not prosecute offenders of the federal gun laws. However, if the feds wish to take action based on federal law, there needs to be no threat of legal action.
The gun nullification advocates, the NRA and other gun owner groups are working off a false premise that the federal government wants to take their guns away. There is no movement toward that end and courts have ruled that the Second Amendment allows for gun ownership.
What the nullification people want is not written into the Constitution. There is nothing in the Second Amendment or in court decisions that says that the type of fire arms available for ownership cannot be limited or that local, state or federal government is not permitted to license the owners of such weapons.
Infringement is not an absolute term. Infringement does not mean that reasonable laws cannot be enacted based on the commerce clause of the Constitution. The changes to decriminalize marijuana are not designed to nullify federal law. If the Constitution is to be followed, then Article VI clause 2 must be adhered to.
“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land…”
David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. He writes a weekly column for the Missourian.