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On Wednesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that a longstanding federal law, which barred users of illegal drugs from possessing firearms, was unconstitutional when applied to a marijuana user. This decision stems from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from the previous year which broadened gun rights. The case in question involved a Mississippi man, Patrick Daniels, who had been arrested and convicted under the aforementioned law when he was found with firearms and traces of marijuana during a traffic stop.

The situation was complicated by the fact that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration did not conduct a drug test on Daniels, even though he admitted to occasional marijuana use. Despite this, he was given a near-four-year prison sentence. During the course of his legal battles, a significant Supreme Court decision was passed in June 2022, asserting that the Second Amendment indeed guaranteed an individual’s right to carry handguns in public for self-defense. This ruling further established a framework for evaluating firearm regulations, emphasizing the need for consistency with the nation’s history of gun control.

Reacting to this newer Supreme Court decision, U.S. Circuit Judge Jerry Smith stated that the law was not applicable in Daniels’s situation. He commented that while there may be historical grounds for limiting the rights of an intoxicated person to bear arms, it isn’t justifiable to disarm a sober individual solely based on past drug consumption. In a concurring view, U.S. Circuit Judge Stephen Higginson noted that several gun safety laws have been nullified post the Supreme Court’s verdict and called for more clarity on the issue to prevent the potential undoing of longstanding protective laws.

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