Thursday, January 12, 2012

Oregon Sheriffs Must Issue Concealed Gun Permits To Medical Marijuana Users...And Why They Have To


Anti- gun rights Sheriffs in Washington and Jackson County, Oregon, in their infinite wisdom,  denied Concealed Handgun Permits to their county residents who possessed state medical marijuana cards. And the ensuing losing Court battle by these County bureaucrats over this decision cost Oregon taxpayers a ton of money. These residents had complied with all of the legal requirements for a permit, but admitted to being regular users of medical marijuana. When the people who were denied permits sued the Sheriffs, the determined Sheriffs answered that the state’s concealed permit laws were preempted by federal law against possession of firearms by people who are “unlawful” users of controlled substances. 
The Sheriffs believed that the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968 applied in this circumstance and that Oregon law was preempted by the Federal Gun Control Statute. The state courts, including the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that the Sheriffs got it wrong, and that permits should have been issued. But the anti-firearms rights sheriffs took their case to the United States Supreme Court, hoping that the country’s highest court would overturn the Oregon Courts’ decisions.
After a long legal battle went through 3 different levels of Oregon’s state courts, each a successively higher Court, the anti-gun rights Sheriffs lost. The Oregon Supreme Court used "common sense" that Anti -Gun rights groups often refer to in shutting down the Sheriffs' arguments against gun rights. It ruled that the Gun Control Act of 1968 specifically renounced any intent of Congress to preempt state law unless the law is in “direct and positive” conflict with the Act. The GCA of 1968 makes it illegal for anyone who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance to possess a firearm received in interstate commerce. However, Oregon's highest Court said that Federal Gun Control law does not apply the issuance of permits to medical marijuana users.

The Oregon State Courts’ reasoning was since the Sheriffs wanted to enforce the Federal policy of keeping guns out of the hands of users of medical marijuana by using the state licensing system, that they had problems they could not overcome. 

First, up to this time, there is the fact that Congress has not enacted any law that requires denial of a Concealed Pistol Permit as a way to enforce federal policy underlying the GCA of 1968. 

And, secondly, under the Oregon law, the state concealed permit statute itself shows an underlying  policy of not using the state’s Concealed Handgun Permit licensing mechanism to keep firearms out of the hands of medical marijuana users.

However, in the end the Sheriffs lost because the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the Sheriffs’ appeal. That has the effect of agreeing that the Oregon Courts got it right, and that the Sheriffs should have issued the carry permits. All Oregon Sheriffs now have to either issue or renew permits to all who comply with legal concealed carry requirements in Oregon.


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