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Today's Discussion Topic: Form 4473 and Marijuana

Submitted by skrapmetal at 2017-01-19 13:08:03 EST
Rating: -0.2 on 6 ratings (9 reviews) (Review this item) (V)

The purpose of this piece is not to promote my personal, or indeed any particular, position on either firearms or marijuana. It is merely a topic for your consideration and a place, in the comments below, for y'all to opine should you care to do so.


ATF Form 4473 is called the "Firearms Transaction Record" form. In Florida, where I live, it is the one you are required to fill out when purchasing a firearm (or anything classified as such) from a dealer. Other States require it for any firearms transfer including private sale. It is a Federal form, part of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE, commonly called "The ATF") records. It is the form used to communicate the information from the dealer to the BATFE for the required background check, and if that check is not approved, the firearms transaction is also not approved. A picture of Page 1 of the current (as of 1/19/2017) form is attached below. That is the page that the transferee fills out. A transferee signature is required on Page 2 which certifies that all the information on Page 1 is true, correct, and complete.

In addition to a number of items of information, there is Question 11e. It reads, "Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana, or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?" and is followed by this text (in bold type on the Form) "Warning: 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 in which you reside."

Several States, now including Florida, have passed laws and/or Constitutional Amendments that allow marijuana use for medicinal and/or recreational purposes. But anyone who uses marijuana, recreationally or for medical purposes with a prescription, will still be in violation of Federal marijuana laws. Thus a medical marijuana user who wishes to purchase a firearm legally where a transfer requires a Form 4473 must then either a) truthfully check the "Yes" box in response to Question 11e (and thereby admit on Record being in violation of Federal law regarding marijuana), or b) untruthfully check the "No" box in response to Question 11e (and thereby provide false information on the Form, violating Federal law regarding firearms transfer).

It remains to be seen how this will be dealt with in the courts regarding Question 11e and marijuana. Is the requirement to check "Yes" or "No" in response to that Question not also a requirement to either waive one's 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination with a "Yes" answer, or with a "No" answer is it not entrapping one into breaking a law in order to comply with other laws?

There are other options, of course. One may choose to not use marijuana, and thus be able to answer truthfully "Yes" to Question 11e. One may opt out of buying a firearm, so Question 11e (and all the others) will not be posed. Or, in States like Florida that allow private sale of firearms without a background check, the marijuana user can simply and legally purchase their firearm from a private citizen rather than from a dealer. No Form 4472 required, so no need to answer Question 11e either way.

Is this a problem? If so, then what, if anything, should be done to address it? Where I live, private sale of firearms is legal. That said, I don't know anyone who has sold a firearm in a private sale who didn't have as conditions of the sale a look at the buyer's Driver License and Concealed Weapon Permit in order to verify that they match in name and address (and to ensure that the buyer is over 21 if the sale is of a handgun as per Florida law). This ensures that the buyer is *probably* legal to own the firearm. Better than nothing, obviously, but certainly not required in Florida. Likewise, when buying in a private sale, most people I know will ask to see the seller's ID and CWP. This helps ensure the seller isn't selling a firearm they either don't own or have a pressing need to get rid of. And of course I have no doubt that lots of private sales of firearms occur with nothing more than an exchange of money or trade goods for hardware.

The issue I see rising is that the number of private sales of firearms will increase as medical and recreational marijuana use becomes more accepted in the States but remains a Federal crime. Many people won't want to make the choice between legal purchase of a firearm and their use of marijuana, and the only way to avoid the conflict while accomplishing both goals is to buy the firearm through private sale.

I know there's a lot more to this than what I've touched on here today, such as how illegal marijuana distribution is often closely related to illegal firearms and whether legalizing marijuana will reduce the traffic in illegal weapons, but I have limited time and you have limited attention. So, if you like, discuss.


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Submitted by Pubis at 2017-03-06 21:34:58 EST (#)
Rating: -2

Submitted by shitfuck at 2017-02-10 00:48:48 EST (#)
Rating: -2


Submitted by shitfuck at 2017-02-10 00:48:48 EST (#)
Rating: -2


Submitted by Tyrone at 2017-01-22 17:36:58 EST (#)
Rating: 2

"I don't know why we insist on it being this extreme black-and-white issue where your options are either "guns bad, ban all guns" or "guns everywhere, guns for everybody, let's all make love to our guns constantly." The guns are out there and they aren't going anywhere. We need to be educating people on how to use them, and how not to use them."
Damn girl, look at chu being all civil n' shit. Makin' a nigga fall in love.....

Submitted by Fucking foul at 2017-01-20 17:39:25 EST (#)

I don't hate guns dude. Guns, besides just being cool things from a design perspective and a recreational perspective, are very useful tools. I own several. You don't have to hate guns to acknowledge that there is a problem in this country with gun violence, and with accidents and tragedies resulting from irresponsible gun use/ownership. I don't know why we insist on it being this extreme black-and-white issue where your options are either "guns bad, ban all guns" or "guns everywhere, guns for everybody, let's all make love to our guns constantly." The guns are out there and they aren't going anywhere. We need to be educating people on how to use them, and how not to use them.

Submitted by Tyrone at 2017-01-20 13:13:52 EST (#)
Rating: 2

Nigga you could just buy a gun from some nigga on da street. thats how i do it. fuck forms n shit. niggas with guns dont ask for your identification n shit. they just makin paper and fuck the police while they at it. Nigga yhou think im afraid of jail? Niggas killin eachother in the streets over stupid shit erryday. gun control is fucking dumb.

and jeanee, listen bitch why you be hatin on guns? I bet if some nigga came at you with fists of fury you be wishin you had a mahfuggin piece nah mean...

Submitted by FALLEN at 2017-01-20 08:41:21 EST (#)
Rating: 2

if it is only marijuana, you lie.

I don't worry about a pot head having a gun, When was the last time you saw a stoner get confrontational about anything?

Change the question to read "Alcohol use" would be a better use of the law.

Submitted by Fucking foul at 2017-01-19 20:14:58 EST (#)

I fully support the screening out of strung out individuals during the whole background check process. No good can come of selling a firearm to a person who's incapable of baseline responsible behavior. (This is not meant to judge drug addicts or say that they are weak or shitty or whatever. Just that drug addicts are unwell and they behave in irresponsible and antisocial ways as a result.) But yeah, I don't really see casual marijuana users as belonging in that category. Responsible marijuana use is possible, and probably a lot more common than most non-users think. If Republicans in the federal government were really about personal responsibility and smaller government as they claim, marijuana use would be legal, and would definitely not preclude anyone from legally purchasing a firearm.

Anyway, in answer to your question, I don't think that more private sales is a problem per se. But it does make a mandatory background check kind of pointless. If it's not mandatory for all types of sales, then it's not going to be as effective in curbing gun deaths, which is ostensibly the reason the background check is a thing. (I say ostensibly because I personally believe that the background check, while not completely useless, is mainly legislative theater designed to make it look like the government is "doing something" about America's huge gun problem.)

Submitted by fuck you at 2017-01-19 18:59:32 EST (#)
Rating: -1

fucking YAWN

Submitted by skrapmetal at 2017-01-19 13:07:44 EST (#)

You can see the whole Form 4473 here, if you want to look at all the instructions and exceptions


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