New Schumer Gun Possession Bill: Let's Get Tough on Even Those Not Convicted of Drug Crimes


Since so many people were very upset that someone who had not yet committed a crime but who apparently smoked dope, couldn't get in the Army, and was weird was able to buy a gun, Democratic Senator/Public Menace Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has introduced a bill to further limit those who can legally buy a gun in some infuriatingly dumb ways. Jeff Winkler, former Reason intern now at Daily Caller, dug up the details:

Under Schumer's bill, the definition of a "drug abuser" would include anyone with "an arrest for the use or possession of a controlled substance within the past 5 years."

Current federal law already specifies that two kinds of drug users can be barred from owning a gun: (1) Those who have been convicted of possessing or using a controlled substance in the past year and (2) Anyone who has had multiple drug arrests in the past five years, including one within a year of applying for a firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

….the "arrest" language of Schumer's bill and a clarification from the ATF indicate that a greater number of innocent Americans would be barred from owning a gun if the Senate bill becomes law.

"Under the definition of 'unlawful user' … an inference of current use could be drawn if the one arrest resulted in a conviction for use or possession of a controlled substance within the past year," the ATF told the The Daily Caller.

To clear up any confusion, Schumer's bill would expand that "inference" to say: if you've ever been arrested for any kind of drug use or possession in the past five year, you can be denied the lawful possession of a firearm.

The bill's definition of an "unlawful user" also includes anyone arrested for drug paraphernalia within the past five years if the paraphernalia is found have traces of a drug, and those who make an "admission" to using or possessing a controlled substance in the past five years. The meaning of "admission," however, is not defined.

And that's a lot of people who would be barred from their Second Amendment rights:

A little more than 1,600,000 people were arrested in 2009 on drug violations, according to statistic from the Federal Bureau of Investigations. About half of those people were arrested on marijuana charges, with simple drug possession — rather than sale or manufacturing — accounting for nine-tenths of those collars, according to Reason magazine. It's those last set of figures that could very well rally two groups most people might consider odd bed-fellows: pot-smokers and firearms enthusiasts.

Even the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence told Winkler they didn't like this aspect of Schumer's bill–but let's see if this leads them to openly oppose it.

The Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011, in all its grimness. The bill also strives to extend Brady Act background checks to "all sales and transfers of firearms," not just ones through licensed dealers.

I wrote in part of Reason's April 2011 cover package on the Loughner Panic about why we should not think it necessary to institute dumb things like this new Schumer bill in reaction to Loughner's crime.