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Hey, NRA! What About Patients’ Gun Rights?

Honolulu cops are actively taking away medical marijuana patients’ gun rights, which begs the questions: Where is the NRA?

Russ Belville

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Hey, NRA! What About Patients' Gun Rights?

Perhaps between the thoughts and prayers we offer for the gun massacre of the week, you’ve taken some time to educate yourself about the leading organization fighting to defend the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the National Rifle Association, or NRA.

Hold up. This isn’t a pro- or anti-gun article.

This is an anti-hypocrisy article.

The Second Amendment Doesn’t Apply To Patients

The NRA says that it believes strongly in the Second Amendment, which states: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

They pretty much ignore the first half and steadfastly adhere to the second half. The NRA will tolerate no law that in any way infringes on a citizen’s right to have a gun.

This has led to the NRA twisting arms in Congress to the point where we’ve maintained loopholes in background checks so big that 40 percent of people who acquire guns legally are not checked.

The NRA and its followers have lobbied for and won the right of blind people to bear arms in some states, even when they can’t legally drive. They’ve even managed to protect the right of people on the government’s terrorist watch lists to continue amassing as large an arsenal as they so choose.

Again, I’m not writing this to choose sides.

I know about half the marijuana audience is “gun nuts” and the other half is “gun grabbers.”

I’m writing this to call out the NRA for defending the gun rights of anonymous purchasers, blind people and suspected terrorists, but remaining silent on the gun rights of medical marijuana patients.

Hawaii Police Are Taking Patients’ Gun Rights Away

Through Facebook, I was forwarded an official letter that a registered Hawaii patient received from the Honolulu Police Department. It read:

“This letter is to inform you that under provisions of the Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), Section 134-7(a) you are disqualified from firearms ownership, possession or controlling firearms. Your medical marijuana use disqualifies you from ownership of firearms and ammunition.

“HRS 134-7.3 Seizure of Firearms Upon Disqualification:

“If you currently own or have any firearms, you have 30 days upon receipt of this letter to voluntarily surrender your firearms, permit, and ammunition to the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) or otherwise transfer ownership.

“A medical doctor’s clearance letter is required for any future firearms applications or return of firearms from HPD evidence.”

It’s important to note that it’s section 134-7(a) that is cited as the disqualifying statute.

Because Hawaii Revised Statutes 134-7(c) is the section that prohibits gun ownership for people “under treatment or counseling for addiction to, abuse of, or dependence upon any dangerous, harmful, or detrimental drug.”

So, Hawaii isn’t taking patients’ gun rights because Hawaii believes medical marijuana patients are abusing marijuana.

Hawaii is taking patients’ gun rights because the federal government believes medical marijuana patients are abusing marijuana.

Section 134-7(a) is disqualifying Hawaii patients because: “No person who is a fugitive from justice or is a person prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law shall own, possess, or control any firearm or ammunition therefor.”

As I grew up in gun-lovin’ Idaho, one of the primary reasons NRA members would give me for fighting any sort of firearms registration requirement was that we couldn’t trust the government to maintain a list they could use to take people’s guns away.

Well, what is Hawaii’s medical marijuana registry now?

Hawaii Cop Allowed to Choose Which Patients to Disarm

It struck me as odd that this patient received this letter from Honolulu Police Department. How would they know that this person is both a gun owner and a medical marijuana patient?

Originally, Hawaii’s medical marijuana law was under the auspices of the Department of Public Safety—the cops—until a new law moved it to be under the control of the Department of Health in 2015. So, pre-2015, I could understand how cops could be (but shouldn’t be) snooping in the registry they controlled.

But how are the cops snooping into a database maintained by the Department of Health?

According to that department, “The Department of Health is also required to provide law enforcement officials with limited access to the Medical Cannabis Registry Program’s databasee as a tool to safeguard the community against illegal cannabis use and/or illegal cannabis grow sites.”

Apparently, that “limited access” also includes fishing expeditions for taking patients’ guns away.

The letter is signed by Police Chief Susan Ballard and Major Raymond Ancheta from the Records and Identification Division. I called them for more information but was informed the chief was unavailable and the major was on vacation.

So, I called a reference number on the letter for an Officer Cruz from the Firearms Unit.

He explained to me that his supervisor, a Sergeant Liana, is the only person from law enforcement who can access the Health Department’s medical marijuana registry. Apparently, the sergeant can do this snooping of his own accord without any identifiable cause. I called his direct number for confirmation but did not receive a response by press time.

Final Hit: Who Needs A Gun More Than A Patient Growing Cannabis?

This isn’t the first time this has happened.

The 1968 Gun Control Act makes it a federal law to deny guns and ammo to anyone deemed “an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.” Hawaii’s medical marijuana program means nothing to the feds; marijuana is a controlled substance under federal law and using it forfeits your Second Amendment rights.

Here in Oregon, county sheriffs used that federal law to deny the renewal of concealed carry permits to registered medical marijuana patients. NORML Legal Committee attorney Leland Berger took that case—Willis v. Wintersall the way to the Oregon Supreme Court, which ruled that country sheriffs couldn’t deny the permits, as their job is to enforce Oregon law, not federal law.

But that case was the cops reacting to someone’s submission of a permit form.

In Hawaii, it appears the cops are proactively seeking patients to deny firearms. Will anybody take up the case in Hawaii to force cops to follow state law, not federal law?

And will anybody join me in asking the NRA why they fight for suspected terrorists’ and blind people’s gun rights, but not medical marijuana patients’ gun rights? Or why the NRA is so protective of gun owners’ privacy they’ll fight closing background check loopholes but could care less about patients’ personal medical records being used by the government to disarm them?

It’ll be in my thoughts and prayers along with the victims of this week’s mass shooting… and will likely be as effective.

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