Marijuana and guns? ATF says "No!" The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, or ATF, has issued an important notice about changes to Form 4473, the Firearms Transaction Record. Form 4473 is the federally mandated form that must be filled out by any person who acquires a firearm from a federally licensed dealer. The notice of changes is extremely important for FFL's, customers, and gun owners generally. It is particularly important for persons trying to strike a balance between gun rights and medical care - expecially when it comes to the use of marijuana as medicine.
Revisions made to the form include significant changes that should be understood before this new form goes into effect starting January 16, 2017. Some of the positive changes to Form 4473 are that the form is easier for military members to determine their state of residency. It also includes guidance for people who have had their gun rights restored. There is also useful information on how to deal with a firearm transaction that was initially denied but later overturned.
However, the form has significant drawbacks. Now, the entire form will have to be filled out at the business premises of the licensed dealer. So, it will no longer be permissible to fill out the form partially at home before finishing it off in the presence of the firearm dealer.
The other major change is that the form provides a bolded warning from ATF that states: "the use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medical or recreational purposes in the state where you reside." Although this is not specifically a change in ATF policy, it highlights the responsibilities the Bureau places on gun owners and dealers to avoid transactions with persons who use or possess marijuana. This prohibition includes not selling to marijuana cardholders regardless of whether they actually smoke marijuana or not.
In my view, it is only a matter of time before ATF and local U.S. Attorney's Offices begin making examples of individuals via federal criminal prosecutions.
If you're concerned about these changes and want to better understand your responsibilities as a gun owner or dealer, you should contact an attorney immediately. Attorney John Freeman is a lifetime member of the NRA, a Legal Advisory Board Member of the United States Concealed Carry Association, and proudly serves as an advocate for individuals accused of violating state and federal firearms laws. Call the Law Office of John Freeman, PLLC today.