Guns are a hot topic. This year a 21-year-old “isolated stoner “killed multiple people at the 4th of July Parade in his hometown. The most notable mass shooters in Illinois– the Highland Park Shooter and the Aurora factory shooter – were marijuana users, presumably heavy users. Both men were able to bypass FOID laws to buy or own guns.
Gary Martin, the disgruntled employee from the Henry Pratt factory in Aurora, IL, used a gun to kill five fellow employees in 2019. When police arrived at the scene, they shot and killed him.
Martin had THC, caffeine, nicotine, and THC metabolites as the only drugs in his system when he died. *
Ironically, Illinois legislators legalized marijuana just three months later. Legislators ignored the shooting and also ignored warnings from the state’s sheriff and medical associations.
How and why these disturbed men were able to pass background checks and own guns despite their mental health problems and criminal histories remains a mystery. The Chicago Tribune did a deep dive into the flawed process which failed to red flag the Highland Park shooter.
People slip through the cracks of gun regulation…and marijuana regulation, no matter how strong laws are.
In asserting the connection between marijuana and mass violence, our organization doesn’t say it’s the single reason for gun deaths. We also don’t suggest there’s a single solution. Changing attitudes about marijuana would be one way to bring down gun deaths; stop promoting it as a soft drug.
Justice Department takes stand against guns for medical marijuana users
The word is out, and support is growing for our position that medical marijuana users should not be allowed to purchase guns. In fact, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spells out where it stands. “The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”
The federal ATF form asks about marijuana use and gives a warning that lying is a crime punishable as a Felony.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) under Attorney General Merrick Garland, also agrees that medical marijuana users with guns present a danger to society. On Monday, August 8, the department responded to a petition in a Northern Florida court, asking that marijuana users be allowed buy guns. The US Department of Justice, knowing that federal law precludes state laws asked for dismissal of the lawsuit. The DOJ argues that gun rights are for law- abiding citizens. “Analogous statutes which purport to disarm persons considered a risk to society—whether felons or alcoholics—were known to the American legal tradition,” the memo argues.
Furthermore, the Justice Department’s filing acknowledges that Florida law supports the ban. Florida’s law requires doctors to inform patients that medical marijuana use “impairs judgment, cognition, and physical coordination.”
Nikolas Cruz in the News
Nikolas Cruz, who killed 18 on Valentine’s Day, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School testified in court last year. Florida tightened restrictions on gun purchases after that incident, with the Republican governor signing the bill.
On November 2021, Cruz said:
“I am very sorry for what I did, and I have to live with it everyday, and that if I were to get a second chance, I would do everything in my power to try to help others, and I am doing this for you, and I do not care if you do not believe me, and I love you, and I know you don’t believe me, but I have to live with this every day, and it brings me nightmares, and I can’t live with myself sometimes, but I try to push through because I know that’s what you guys would want me to do. I hate drugs, and I believe this country would do better if everyone would stop smoking marijuana and doing all these drugs and causing racism and violence out in the streets.”
Recent testimony from the prosecution presented evidence to help jurors decide if he gets the death penalty or life in prison. Next week the trial will resume with the defense explaining Cruz’s difficult background.
Comparison of the three young shooters
The public now knows that the Highland Park, Uvalde and Parkland shooters used marijuana. Each began using it in their teen years. Only one of them, Bobby Crimo of Highland Park, could legally buy adult marijuana in his state. We know that teens will get marijuana whether it’s legal or not, but teens use substantially more in states that have medical marijuana or recreational sales to adults.
Both the Uvalde shooter Salvador Ramos and Nikolas Cruz had troubled backgrounds, not uncommon in our country. Cruz was adopted at age two because his birth mother suffered from addictions. His adoptive father died during his childhood and his mother died three months before he went on his rampage.
Whatever emotional problems occur with teens will get worse if they think marijuana is the answer to their problems.
On Twitter, an acquaintance described Crimo as “an isolated stoner who lost touch with reality.”
As for the Uvalde shooter, a remark removed from a New York Times article was telling. And Ms. Rodriguez recalled he would often talk about how much he despised his mother and grandmother, whom he told her did not let him smoke weed or do what he wanted.
The medical marijuana ban on gun owners should remain in effect!
Enforcement of this law won’t prevent all mass murderers. Some heavy stoners use vehicles, as the Waukesha Christmas parade killer did. But it just may prevent a few very vulnerable people from buying guns. Read one of our previous blogs on mass killers who used marijuana.
- Freedom of information release from the Kane County Coroner