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Trump Demands Biden Take Drug Test, Chicago DA Goes After Pretextual Traffic Stops, More... (5/20/24)

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Consequences of Prohibition

A trio of harm reduction bills are still alive in Illinois as the legislative session ticks toward a close on Friday, a trio of congressional Democrats files a bill restricting .50 caliber weapons, and more.

A .50 caliber Remington rifle. An emerging favorite of Mexican cartels, it can take down a helicopter. (Remington)
Drug Policy

Three House Democrats File Bill to Restrict .50 Caliber Weapons in Bid to Thwart Cartel Violence. Democratic Reps. Joaquin Castro and Veronica Escobar of Texas and Maxwell Frost of Florida have filed a bill aimed at blocking the trafficking of military-grade weapons to Mexican cartels, the Stop Arming Cartels Act.

They say that high-powered .50 caliber rifles are becoming the preferred weapons of drug trafficking organizations as they attack their rivals and law enforcement. The weapons are often acquired through straw purchases in the US and then smuggled into Mexico, the lawmakers said. 

"The sale and trafficking of .50 caliber rifles within the United States is a significant contributor to cartel violence that drives instability and forced migration in Mexico and other nations," they said.

"Especially in Mexico, access to .50 caliber rifles has fundamentally altered the balance of power between criminal organizations and the government and allowed cartels to become virtually untouchable," they said. "Congress can have meaningful debates about broader gun safety reform — but we should all be able to agree that US gun manufacturers should not be selling the weapons that Mexican cartels use to down military helicopters and attack police convoys. The Stop Arming Cartels Act is an important step to restore regional stability and prevent the violence that drives forced migration across our hemisphere," they added.

"The gun laws championed by Republican legislators in this country make Americans less safe. The consequences don’t just impact our communities, but they also impact our neighbors in Latin America and around the world," said Congresswoman Escobar. 

Their bill would ban the further sale of .50 caliber rifles, regulate existing .50 caliber rifles, strengthen reporting requirements for them, and open a pathway for victims of gun violence to seek compensation from gun manufacturers and dealers who violate US laws. 

Illinois Opioid Crisis Bills Advance. As the clock ticks toward the end of the legislative session this week, at least three bills seeking to address opioid use and overdoses have passed out of one chamber and are still alive. 

One bill would broaden access to fentanyl test strips, expanding on legislation last year that allowed them to be sold over the counter and distributed by local health departments. This bill would provide the test strips to hospitals, jails, universities, and other organizations through the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Drug Overdose Prevention Program. 

A second bill would provide the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone to people with drug use histories or criminal charges upon their release from jail or prison. 

The third bill would expand on existing legislation to develop drug education for kids by adding specific requirements for fentanyl education beginning in sixth grade. The Senate passed that bill after amending it to allow a school social worker or law enforcement officer to teach the material. 

Lawmakers have only this week to get the bills done. The session ends on Friday. 

Cook County (Chicago) Prosecutor to Shift Policy, Reject Gun and Drug Charges Stemming from Routine Traffic Stops. Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx has announced plans to direct prosecutors in her office to reject gun and drug charges stemming solely from routine traffic stops, which she says are often mere pretexts for searches. 

"Decades of data demonstrate that these stops do not enhance public safety. Instead, they perpetuate a cycle of mistrust and fear, especially in under-resourced communities. This draft policy is a crucial step towards rebuilding that trust," Foxx said. 

Only one in a thousand such pretextual stops result in an illegal gun charge, her office said. Work toward the policy change began in August. 

"Black drivers are six times more likely to be stopped than white drivers," said Loren Jones, Director of Criminal Legal Systems for the non-profit group Impact for Equity. "Overall, the practice of stopping someone for a traffic violation is not unconstitutional, but when there’s a racial bias behind it, as we can see from the data, that’s when the constitutionality is called into question."

Not everybody is on board, however. The move would "cement Foxx's legacy as the biggest pro-criminal advocate in the nation," said Chicago Alderman Sylvana Tabares (23rd Ward). "It strips officers of an essential tool to get illegal guns off our streets. Residents are demanding we do more to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and make their neighborhoods safe. This does the opposite."

Drug Testing

Donald Trump Demands Joe Biden Take a Drug Test. During a campaign event in Minnesota Friday, presumed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump demanded that President Joe Biden take a drug test because he appeared too animated during his State of the Union speech. 

"I’m gonna demand a drug test too, by the way," Trump said at the Minnesota Republican Party’s Lincoln Reagan Dinner Friday. "I am, no I really am. I don’t want him coming in like the State of the Union, he was high as a kite."

That echoed earlier comments from Trump that Biden was "all jacked up" during the State of the Union and that he was "higher than a kite."

Biden had partly defused concerns about his age with a State of the Union speech that was powerful and energetic. 

The drug test demand comes little more than a month before the two presidential contenders pair up for the first of two presidential debates. 

With his remarks on Friday, Trump appeared to be echoing Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC), who said a day earlier that Biden "must have been jacked up" during the State of the Union. 

"I was in the State of the Union address and Joe Biden must have been jacked up on something that day. I absolutely believe that from a medical viewpoint and actually have a little bit of good knowledge that happened," Murphy said. "He can’t stand, and he can’t stand under the lights for that long, and I don’t think he can keep a concept in his brain that long."

Murphy is a doctor, but he is a urologist, not a neurologist. 

The Biden campaign has not bothered to comment on the remarks or the demand. 

(This article was prepared by StoptheDrugWar.org's 501(c)(4) lobbying nonprofit, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also pays the cost of maintaining this website. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code 

and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

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