As I sit here typing out this story from the safety of a bulletproof office—at least I hope to hell that it is—someone, maybe even someone you know will be killed by gun violence. On average, around 106 Americans die each day from a chance meeting with a bullet. Some of the casualties are shot dead by gutless goons while others, sadly enough, turn the firepower on themselves. Despite the vast toll of bodies and bloodshed, however, the American piece construct, one that seemingly embraces the most imbecilic tenets of deep-woods hillbilly philosophy, is to shoot first and never ask questions. No matter how many innocent people succumb to murder and suicide in this pistol-packing nation, the red, white and blue fabric of the governmental hood, all tattered and torn from decades of knock-down drag-out politics against its own, continues blinding a nation with a hefty dose of God-fearing optimism.

After all, many of the victims of gun attacks actually survive—around 95 of the 316 shot a day are merely injured—and of the 74 each day who stick the barrel in their mouths in pursuit of ending it all, 10 of them just end up disfigured. The recipe for relief when guns go wrong in this country is to simply mourn, pray and repeat. And what the politicians refuse to sort out with respect to all of this boom-boom killplay, they give the rest up to God and hope for the best. But that’s never enough. 

“The shots keep getting closer to home,” Rachel, a 33-year-old graphic designer who lives on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri, told High Times. “More criminals than anyone else seem to have guns. It’s scary, you never know any more if you’re going to get killed just sitting on the porch.” 

Nevertheless, the so-called greatest nation in the world keeps its finger firmly on the trigger. It has to. Why, if the forefathers of the good ole US of A thought it necessary way back when to give every citizen the right to pack heat, then by God, the politicians, both the corrupt and non-confrontational, should never stop fighting to ensure that every citizen is clenching a firearm in their fists as soon as they pop out of the womb. Unfortunately, our gun-wielding society has officially lost its damn mind. What was intended as a right to self-protection (or perhaps more controversially, create a standing army, not give everyone the right to carry weapons just because) has since mutated into the dimwitted armament of domestic terrorists. We’ve now got weak-minded, undisciplined, pimple-faced, pseudo-anarchists angry at the world shooting up schools at a rate that crossed the line of acceptability a long damn time ago. The unarmed has become the minority. 

It’s to the point where you can’t even get into an old-fashioned screaming match on the street without fear that someone might get their feelings hurt bad enough to whip out a gun and start shooting. To say it’s the wild west out there would be a gross understatement. It’s more like Thunderdome. The depravity surrounding gun violence continues to spiral further into profound depths of extreme dipshittery—experiencing an increase of 20% since 2019— yet more states are passing laws making it easier, not harder for civilians to carry a gun. Over half the nation now allows adults as young as 18-years-old to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. 

Yep, without

Alabama is the latest state to make gun ownership as easy as catching a cold. It’s just one of many jurisdictions across the country where it is now perfectly acceptable to pack heat—although some restrictions apply—but don’t you dare pack a bowl. Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Tennessee, Texas and Utah (as well as others) have, over the years, relaxed their respective gun laws to allow people 18-years-old and up, those barely old enough to wipe their own ass, to forgo the licensing process once required to procure a firearm. Yet, strangely enough, these states don’t want their citizens, not even those presumably old enough to understand the basics of bathroom hygiene, to have the same kind of freedom when it comes to weed. No sir, anyone in these places who gets caught in possession of a little grass, rest assured the courts will be eagerly waiting to make their life a living hell. In Alabama, for example, getting caught with any amount of marijuana can result in a year in jail and fines up to $6,000. Even if a pot offender gets a slap on the wrist, that doesn’t mean he or she will escape jail and get off with a polite warning. 

Those who get wrapped up in a pot charge, even low-level smears, where the prosecution pushes for probation rather than incarceration can still end up being forced to attend drug and alcohol classes, do community service and surrender their driver’s license privileges as part of their probationary terms. It’s how the man grinds drug offenders to a pulp through the gears of the system. These people may have seemingly caught a break in the eyes of outsiders, but they must still adhere to all sorts of nagging stipulations, including pass random drug tests during their probation period or else run the risk of being sent to jail to fulfill their sentence. Cages are the alternative for those without the money to pay steep restitution to the state for breaking their drug laws. Hey pal, pay up or get locked up. Your choice. 

Those parts of the country where guns are widely accepted—even praised, third only to God and country—yet pot use is still considered a threat to the well-being of the public is about as backasswards as it gets. Even if some of the negative consequences of pot (legal or otherwise) that’s been reported over the years ended up being true, a stoned society is presumably still a heck of a lot less risky than one that is armed for no reason.

Are we to believe that just because some gray-headed slave owners from 1787 penned a document one night over a few stiff drinks stating that the people should all have the right to keep and bear arms, deadly weapons earn a free pass from here to eternity?

George Washington and the rest of the Constitution crew didn’t foresee that the gun industry would eventually modify the musket used in the American Revolution, turning it into a fearsome killing machine capable of firing 300 rounds of “die, you bastard, die” per minute. Just like they didn’t anticipate that cannabis growers would eventually produce weed strong enough to make people call 911. Not even the lawmakers responsible for banning weed in 1937 could have made that prediction. To be fair, we’ve made some rather impressive technological advancements over the years, some of which, had the founding fathers been made privy to prior to signing, may have inspired them to make a giant paper airplane of the Constitution, soak it in kerosene and fly it straight into a candle. Or perhaps they would have simply decreed, “The people have the right to do whatever the hell they want; they’re going to fuck it up anyway.” 

Fast forward more than two-hundred years and the lawmakers of these tumultuous times have witnessed the death and destruction, the ridiculousness of holding on to pistol heritage, and yet the only heavy hand they continue to hold firm is on cannabis prohibition. Let’s be clear: Marijuana consumption doesn’t kill, and if there is a rising death toll anywhere because of it, the black market perpetuated through discrepancies between state and federal drug laws is ultimately to blame.

Many gun advocates argue that law-abiding citizens aren’t inclined to commit crime, so arming them, even without a permit, is absolutely no danger to society. Fair enough. It could also be argued that those philosophies equally apply to the average cannabis consumer. Give them the right to buy and possess marijuana just like alcohol, and most won’t cause any dust ups with the law. “I’ve never been in trouble for anything other than weed,” Dimitri, a 24-year-old from Greenville, Indiana tells us. “I’d be considered a model citizen if it wasn’t for these dumb pot laws.”

Meanwhile, law enforcement continues to piss and moan about the dangers of legal marijuana. Some of the latest reports, much like the previous reports we’ve all read over the years, have connected legal weed to everything from increased violence to human trafficking. The boys in blue also like to voice concerns about the distribution of firearms related to illicit marijuana trafficking, much of what continues to thrive within the gray areas of legalization. However, as much as they would like to convince the average citizen that weed is the culprit in the undoing of America, an affinity for a plant, legal or otherwise, is not what’s driving the nation’s lust for guns. No sir, we’ve been obsessed with gat machismo a long time. There are presently around 393 million weapons in the hands of civilian Americans, with three in ten adults claiming gun ownership. All of this equates to roughly 121 guns per 100 residents. Gun control laws have continued to weaken across the nation, and now more young men barely out of diapers are freely permitted to keep firepower on their belts to supplement the testosterone leading them to fight or fuck anything that moves. This is, without question, a dangerous step toward mayhem.

“They should probably raise the age on that,” Chris, a 48-year-old gun owner from Lexington, Kentucky, told High Times. “I’ve seen younger guys get into some trouble that probably wouldn’t have happened had it not been for them having a gun. I worked with one years ago, he was like 21, who showed his pistol during a road rage incident, and they came down on him hard. Guys are just too hot-headed at that age. But they’re [the government] never going to change that. How can they say you can’t own a gun until you’re 25 and still ship them off to war at 18?”

Listen, I don’t like guns. I’ve never owned one and never felt that I needed to arm myself, even if it was, as the gun rights people often claim, just for personal protection. And I come from the rural Midwest, too, the redneck capital of the world. Everyone has guns. It was even perfectly acceptable, at least in our obscure part of the country, to pull into school with a firearm in your vehicle if it was fitted with a gun rack. A lot of high school students in the late 80s, albeit typically the same ones who belonged to FFA, showed up with hunting rifles in tow, but none of them ever dreamed of bringing one into the classroom and opening fire on the other students. Not even when fist fights broke out in the parking lot after class—and that happened more times than I can count—did the gun owners reach for a boom stick to get the upper hand on their opponent. They just took the ass beating. Win or lose, everyone back then lived to fight another day.

Coming from this culture, I’ve never been the kind of guy to impede on someone’s right to do anything. Not even own a firearm. If guns were your thing, so be it. I didn’t want people trying to take away the things that I enjoyed, so giving them the same courtesy was my way of maintaining balance. Fair was fair. But that was before. Now, fewer gun restrictions have put more firearms in the streets and into the hands of the wrong people, and not everyone is as hesitant to reach for them as they were back in the day. At the same time, the federal government, still awfully hesitant to do much more about the nation’s gun problem than offer cheap condolences, remains hellbent on keeping nationwide cannabis prohibition intact, even while states move in the opposite direction. If we, as Americans, must live in a nation where we’re always at risk of staring down the business end of a gun, we should never need to concern ourselves with the legal repercussions of possessing a plant that’s legal for adults in over half the nation. Times have changed, like it or not, and the government should respond accordingly. 

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