Exclusive: A Mess Of Pottage

| Rights Watch |

By David Codrea

“San Francisco’s last gun store to become cannabis club,” Fox Television Station KTVU 2 reports. The ironically-named High Bridge Arms, a fixture in the changing city (talk about an understatement), “will likely reopen” as the appropriately-named (this time) High Bridge Cannabis Club.
Talk about a place going to pot, pun intended.

“The former manager of High Bridge, the gun store, says it was forced to close after 64 years, when regulations such as requiring the shop to videotape guns sales made it difficult to continue to operate,” the story elaborates. The marijuana outlet will replace the Bernal Heights Collective (another appropriate description for what “progressives” are all about), a 10-year-old entity that lost its lease at its original location.

Gun store proprietors throwing in the towel is understandable. In addition to all the ways the feds can make your life miserable, California doesn’t enjoy the highest (sorry) Brady Campaign rating for nothing. There are prior restraint “safety certificates” required to purchase a firearm. Did someone say “universal background checks”? Of course there are, along with a 10-day waiting period for transfers. And a so-called “safe storage” mandate…

There’s registration of handguns, which need to be on an “approved” list. Speaking of that, if you have a firearm defined as an “assault weapon” by either name or characteristics (as defined by two separate bans), if it’s not registered, too bad, you’re not allowed to have it. The same applies to magazines holding over 10 rounds. Ditto for .50 BMGs. And good luck getting a CA DOJ permit for an NFA weapon unless you’re in the dominated-by-anti-gunners film industry.

Open carry? Generally, no. There are specific exceptions, but that’s what they are. Concealed carry? “May issue” usually means “probably won’t” in “progressive” dominated locales.

Good thing there’s supposed to be state preemption against locales deciding laws for themselves. Except that hasn’t stopped San Francisco from enacting storage, magazine and ammunition edicts of its own that have been upheld. And as always happens, once sharks taste blood, the eye-rolling feeding frenzy isn’t close to being over, because for those who hunger for control, they can never get enough.

Former San Francisco Mayor and current Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, a creature whose struggles with self-control have been well-publicized, is projecting his lack of trust for restraint in others with a “gun control” ballot initiative. Offering competing infringements of its own is the state legislature, pushing 10 bills collectively referred to as “gunpocalypse.” Among other Intolerable Acts, they intend to close the “bullet button loophole” by outright banning semi-auto rifles with detachable magazines along with the magazines, to deny due process by prohibiting people on the “no fly” list from buying guns, to impose background checks on ammunition purchases, and much more.

It’s fair to wonder if anyone who thinks any of this will slow a violent criminal from getting his hands on a gun is stoned out of his mind. And that brings us back to the San Francisco pot store, and to note there’s a difference between liberty and being a libertine, and different consequences for pursuing each.

Users there, and wherever else states have made it “legal,” like in Colorado, may not know and may not care, but they’re disqualifying themselves from owning a gun, even if their use is compliant with state laws. That’s because the federal government prohibits anyone who is a marijuana/controlled substance user from buying a gun and ammunition, and per ATF, it doesn’t even matter if the purchaser has a medical marijuana card.

“There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana purportedly used for medicinal purposes, even if such use is sanctioned by state law,” Arthur Herbert, the assistant director for ATF enforcement programs and services wrote to FFLs in response to numerous inquiries. And lying about that on a Form 4473 is a felony.

Not to get all religious and preachy in a gun magazine, and yes, of course the Founders directed that no theocracy would be established, but they also acknowledged “unalienable rights endowed by our Creator.” And that brings to mind a story from the Book of Exodus, which is OK in this case, because it involves a figure played by Charlton Heston.

The actions of some of the Israelites have always been maddeningly puzzling. There they were out in the wilderness, having experienced miracles from the plagues of Egypt, to the parting of the Red Sea, to manna from Heaven, and what did they do when Ch…uh, Moses left them to receive the Ten Commandments? They turned their backs on what they had seen and lived through, and fashioned a golden calf to worship—a false idol.

There’s an analogy in there for those who prefer comforts and pleasures over the rigors and responsibilities of what Samuel Adams called “the animating contest of freedom.”

Still, say what you will about the “war on drugs,” one observation bears sober consideration: At least when the feds wanted to enact Prohibition against alcohol, political and judicial leaders realized they had absolutely no Constitutional authority to do so, at least until they could enact the 18th Amendment. That has not been done in this case, and it’s no surprise we see the results of overreach reflected in systemic official corruption, in aggressive, ruinous asset forfeitures, in loss of financial privacy, and in powerful incentives for violent underworld cartels and violent enforcement countermeasures.

There’s an old John Wayne film, one with yet another ironic title, The High and the Mighty, that becomes even more ironic when noting how much has changed within the lifetime of many GUNS readers.

A passenger stalking a man he wrongly believed to be his wife’s lover was carrying a revolver in his coat pocket. He boarded the plane without going through metal detectors or body scanners. TSA didn’t grope him or wand him down or make him take off his shoes. When he tried to act and failed, the other passengers grabbed him and took the gun away from him. One kept it for safekeeping with no objections raised, and gave it back after the now contrite husband realized the error of his ways. And because there was no harm/no foul, no SWAT team was waiting to take him out when he got off the plane. He disembarked down the stairs and walked across the tarmac to the terminal. In San Francisco!

The differences in values and expectations and social norms between eras helps explain the indifference with which many latter day San Franciscans feel for the loss of basic rights. Many are literally unaware of what it is they’re giving up when they turn their backs on the right to keep and bear arms, preferring an herb-induced high instead.

It’s reminiscent of another Bible story, this one of Esau as told in Genesis. He returned from the field famished, and sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew, “a mess of pottage.” Nothing less than their birthright is what the cannabis users are trading for a mess of pot.

As that right goes up in smoke, strung-out junkies addicted to that most potent of narcotics—power—experience a euphoria those who have never partaken can only imagine. The thing is, once they come down, they’ll need another high. Keep them from it for any length of time and they’ll get desperate, dangerous, irrational, and willing to do anything for another fix.

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