What If We Treated Drugs Like Guns?
Drugs can be used to treat a number of conditions and save lives, but they can also be abused and cause harm. An epi-pen can save a person going into anaphylactic shock from an allergy in a similar way that a well timed and aimed bullet can save the life of person endangered by an intruder. A nitroglycerin shot given to someone suffering from a heart attack can save a life similar to armed police intervening in a life or death situation. On the flip side, opiates administered improperly or abused can result in someone suffering grave health complications or even death similar to a shot that misses it’s intended mark. When you look at it that way, drugs are not that different than a gun in that they are tools used in life saving situations that can be abused for criminal means.
So what if we treated drugs the way we treat guns in the least restrictive states for guns? Here’s what it would look like.
In some states, it is legal for a firearm to be transferred between unlicensed parties. If I applied that to drugs, that would mean that if I get a prescription for an opioid like Oxycontin or Percocet, I would be able to distribute that to anyone legally. I don’t need to be a pharmacist, doctor, or any type of medical professional. I don’t need approval from a professional or government agency either to make the transfer. I could sell or give away my prescription drugs to anyone with no legal penalty. The person receiving the drugs won’t need a prescription, and could get these drugs from anyone with a prescription that is willing to sell it to them.
In some states, there is no ban on assault weapons. Some states have no limit in the amount of ammunition purchases, and allow for guns to be purchased in bulk. In the drug world, that would mean that I could get any dosage of a drug that I want. If the doctor suggests that I should only get 50 milligrams, I have the right to a 500 milligram dose whether I actually need it or want. Powerful drugs that would otherwise be on the list of controlled substances would be free for anyone to get as long as they can pay for it. I can purchase as much morphine, Percocet, Oxycontin, etc. as my heart desires to use or keep around in case of emergency.
Some states don’t even require you to get a license to own a firearm or register a firearm if you own it. Some states don’t have a waiting period either. Applying that to drugs would mean that I would be free to get any drug I want whether I get a doctor’s prescription or not. I could get my drugs from the pharmacy without any paperwork, and then distribute it as I see fit. The government has no business in whether I have drugs, or the amount that I have. I could have a stockpile of opiates and amphetamines in my basement to use and distribute without a prescription, and the government would have keep their nose out of it.
Some states don’t allow local governments to regulate guns. So if a community is stricken with an epidemic of hydrocodone use, the mayor and police force have no say in how they will regulate it. They won’t be allowed to regulate the drugs other than from the state or federal government.
Some states don’t require the reporting of mental health information for gun sales. Some don’t require any background check. Some don’t have age restrictions for unlicensed sellers, meaning that they can sell a gun to any kid. That would mean that anyone could get an opiate, even if they have mental illness, drug abuse problems, or a criminal record. Anyone would be able to sell children drugs such as Vicodin, Valium and amphetamines.
Aside from the laws, let’s talk about policy. There’s some gun pundits that want to arm teachers? But do we want to let them bring opiates to class, even if it may be to help a student with chronic pain? If there was a spike in the death of people from opiates, should we block studies into the nature and effect of the issue because it might restrict our use of opiates? If kids die from overdoses, should we just chalk it up to the price we pay for the freedom to use medicine?
In short, are we cool with allowing drugs to be accessed in the same way as guns? Probably not.
I do believe in our right to bear arms, and I don’t want to do away with guns anymore than I want to do away with medicine. They both serve a useful purpose. Drugs can be used recreationally, just like guns, but we outlaw the recreational use of drugs. Drugs can be abused, just like guns, thus they are controlled. Drugs can save and protect lives, just like guns. What I don’t understand is how the regulation of one seems like common sense, while the other is seen as an affront to our liberty. Doesn’t restricting access to medicine infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens who would never abuse it? Shouldn’t people have the ability to stockpile medicine in the case of government tyranny, economic collapse, war, or other emergency? Why do we allow the government to control the medicine we have access to without batting an eyelash? Why are new regulations around drugs considered business as usual, thus not even a topic for debate?
Regardless of which side of the debate you are on, it’s something to think about.