Cassi Creek: There has been a very strong demand from the political and social right wing that recipients of unemployment insurance, disability compensation, food stamps, and other funds from social safety net programs be required to submit to and pass screening for illegal drug use. This demand has been emanating from the religious and political right, who intend it to be used to eliminate such payments for any recipient who tests positive. There is little understanding among the American Taliban and their minions, just how easy it is to damage the necessary chain of custody that identifies the donor. Nor, do they understand the unacceptably high incidence of false positive results. Both of these situations can delay reliable and timely analysis, and the latter requires costly confirmation that further introduces time delays into the process.
These delays, as well as the logistic nightmare that is required to collect, transport, analyze, and report results for each donor add much to the expense of analysis and little to preventing the use of illegal drugs by recipients of welfare and other public funds. The overall percentage of illegal drug users remains at about 13% of all persons tested. Despite the costs, monetary and other, the GOP/teavangelists and other fractions of the American Taliban want to require such drug testing; and to require the recipient to pay for the tests. To require people who are already in dire straits economically to lay out a large amount of money sorely needed for food, utilities, and health care, to pay for a drug test that is probably negative, is just another demonstration of the lack of concern the right wingers have for the citizens of America.
This same political/social group is largely responsible for gun and ammunition purchases in America. While there are progressives who hunt and who engage in target shooting, they are now and will remain a minority.
There is currently much concern about the mental health status of spree shooters. The last several such mass murderers have all had a history of taking anti-depressants, and other psycho-active drugs that are suggestive of mental health disorders. While testing for these drugs is not indicative that those testing positive will become spree shooters or will, at some time become more unstable and dangerous to others, their presence may be helpful in deciding who is allowed to own and carry firearms.
I can imagine the outcry if legislation requiring drug testing be performed and reviewed by law enforcement agencies before individuals are allowed to purchase any type of firearm. The right wingers, who have no problem forcing such tests upon the recipients of food stamps and unemployment insurance, will almost certainly become apoplectic in a mass display of self-righteousness. They will object to “illegal searches.” They will rail about the delays inserted into the gun purchase process. They will claim it to be an unconstitutional restriction upon their 2nd amendment rights.
Since no one is required to own a firearm, no one needs to submit to drug testing if they are afraid they will not pass the test. The waiting periods already in place in some states for gun purchases have been found legal already.
The more I think about this method of screening firearms buyers, the more I like it. It will help to eliminate the mentally ill purchasing guns and ammunition. It will insert a mandatory delay in the purchasing process. It will certainly work toward stopping gun show parking lot sales and other undocumented sales. While it will not eliminate such sales or stop such killing sprees, it will, in concert with other legal changes to the purchase of firearms and ammunition, work toward the forms of gun control that most Americans may be able to agree are acceptable and valid. If our American Taliban object, they are welcome to move to nations where fewer restrictions prohibit them from acquiring guns immediately and where their abuse of illegal substances and their mental health status will not be a consideration. Afghanistan and Syria come to mind.