The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives or more commonly the ATF has announced an update to Form 4473, the background check form. All Federal firearms licensees or FFLs will have to switch to the form on Jan. 16, 2017. The previous form, drafted in 2012, will no longer be accepted from that point on.
Anyone buying from or transferring a firearm through an FFL will have to fill out this updated form. The bulk of the changes to the form are small clarifications to how the background check questions are phrased but one change stands out noticeably.
Question 11.e asks if the person filling out the background check is “An unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana” among other controlled substances. It has a new warning that points out that marijuana use remains “Unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes” under state law.
This change reflects the ATF’s longstanding position that local laws don’t supersede the federal laws the ATF is tasked to interpret and enforce. As long as there are federal laws that criminalize the consumption or possession of marijuana it will be illegal for cannabis users to purchase firearms.