The United States as one of the most developed countries in terms of legislation has a number of legal policies concerning various areas. When talking about Drug and Gun Control Policy is it necessary to stress the following differences in approaches to the issues.
Drugs use in the USA has been regulated since 1830 when alcohol was considered as a drug. The term “narcotics” was first used in 1914 law was prohibiting the use of opium in the purposes other than medical ("Drug enforcement administration," 2007). Since then the taken corresponding laws are considered as legal regulations concerning other types of drugs. According to the information as for Federal drug policy of the United States the use of heroin had increased between 1969, and 1971, other drugs like marijuana became widely spread between 1978 and 1979 and cocaine between 1987 and 1989. The further use of drugs in general and cocaine in particular, increasing more than fivefold, was also fixed with the adoption of corresponding legal acts and law regulations, which can be seen in the appropriate references ("Drug enforcement administration," 2007).
Drug prohibition and crime control are regulated by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that is the Federal law enforcement agency under U.S. Department of Justice. It struggles against drug smuggling and its use within the territory of the USA. The Administration is headed by an Administrator of Drug Enforcement, who is appointed by the US President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. According to the data of 1998, the DEA budget was aimed at the three major goals:
- $3.3 million was allocated to anti-legalization education, training for law enforcement personnel, and support for communities coalitions, sports drug awareness programs, as well as youth programs.
- $181.8 million went on reduction of drug-related violence and crime funding state and also on local teams and mobile enforcement teams.
- $1.0149 billion was allocated to break domestic and foreign sources of supply via domestic cannabis eradication and suppression, technical engineering and research operations, the Foreign Cooperative Investigations Program, intelligence operations, chemical and drug diversion control and domestic enforcement.
The Drug Policy remains Federal without any corrections in each state separately, which seems to be sensible as the problem of drug use in the USA is a national problem. The effectiveness of the enforcement can be measured by actual results, which according to the statistics and recent research remain high. Regarding the legalization of certain drugs the USA is the country where this rule is not necessary especially while taking into consideration the size of the country. Although recent voting in California (1996) as for legalization of marijuana was close to have positive consequences with 53.5% “No” votes to 46.5% “Yes” votes (“The contras cocaine”).
Drug policy had legislative victories. “In the area of courts, the 1980s war on drugs would see numerous bills at the national and state levels that allocated additional funding to create special “drug courts” to handle the rise in drug prosecution” (Marion 2006, p.18).
Gun Policy in the United States
Quite another situation is with the Gun policy in the United States. First of all, the regulations appeared long before than those with the Drug Policy. Already back in 1791 the Second Amendment said, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed" (Charles 1997, p.49). Since 1934 the legal gun imports started to be taxed. Gun laws and regulations are at all levels of government, and the majority is with local codes. The National Rifle Association reports 20,000 gun laws nationwide and each state has its own legal regulations. At the Federal level, fully automatic weapons, short barrel shotguns, and short barrel rifles have been taxed and mandated for registration since 1934 with the National Firearms Act. The Gun Control Act of 1968 also considers mail-order sales and transfers of minors as prohibited. In general, gun politics is a very controversial point in the U.S., giving the right to bear arms according to the Second Amendment and prohibition to bear arms. The poles report Barack Obama’s strong support for gun control measures. They are as follows:
- The President proposed to vote one to nine “for” and “against” and Americans voted for all nine.
- The majority of the population (more than 70%) is in favor of demanding checks in the background for all gun sales, increasing in funding for mental health programs targeted at youth, increasing of funding for programs to train law enforcement and schools in term of armed attacks. Also, Americans vote for increasing of punishment for so-called straw arms buyers.
- Americans still favor the strengthening and reinstalling the ban on assault weapons and limitation of sale of ammunition magazines to those with 10 rounds or less (Wilcox, 1998).
- The other three policies tested by the poll, are Federal funding for 15000 street police officers, Federal funding to assist schools in developing emergency response plans, and to ban the possession of armor-piercing bullets by civilians.
Political arguments of gun politics differ from each other answering the question whether gun ownership in fact prevents or causes the crime. The Second Amendment can also be interpreted in various manners. The major two questions are: whether the government have the authority to regulate guns, and if so, is it effective for the public to regulate guns as well.
Therefore, when taking into consideration close comparison of the two policies the differences are obvious:
- In the Drug Policy law enforcement play a Federal role, while in the gun Control Policy this is mainly regulated locally and in each state the laws are different.
- As for the prosecutor and courts in the Gun policy the Supreme Court ruled that the Bill or Rights restricts only Federal Congress and not the States in the regulation of guns ("A look inside," 2007).
- The Drug Policy is more concessive and is applied nationwide.
- The corrections in the Drug Policy are more restrictive while in the Gun policy they are more permissive.
- There is no difference in Federal and state application concerning drug use whereas the gun usage differs from one state to another.
In general, the policies are very different in their Federal and local applications. In addition, it seems that the Drug Policy is more constituent in its primary intention and is clearly interpreted on each stage while the Gun Policy is bios. Hence, the Gun Policy is a more complicated court case.
- Marion, N.E. and Oliver, W.M. (2006). The Public Policy of Crime and Criminal Justice.Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Charles, P. (1997). The Second Amendment: The Intent and Its Interpretation by the States and the Supreme Court.New York: Harper Collins Publishers.
- Wilcox, C. (1998). Changing politics of gun control. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield.
- A look inside America's gun culture. (2007, 04 17).
- The contras, cocaine, and covert operations. Unpublished raw data, The Geoge Washington University.
- (N/a) (2007). Drug enforcement administration: Drug abuse prevention service award. Learning for Life.