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davidtrump

​​​​​​​Drug policy & Gun control

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Drug policy and criminal justice reform

The Obama administration took a few steps to reform the criminal justice system at a time when many in both parties felt that the US had gone too far in incarcerating drug offenders, and Obama was the first president since the 1960s to preside over a reduction in the federal prison population. Obama's tenure also saw a continued decline of the national violent crime rate from its peak in 1991, though there was an uptick in the violent crime rate in 2015.  In October 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a directive to federal prosecutors in states with medical marijuana laws not to investigate or prosecute cases of marijuana use or production done in compliance with those laws. In 2009, President Obama signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010, which repealed a 21-year-old ban on federal funding of needle exchange programs. In August 2010, Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize non-medical marijuana, and six more states legalized recreational marijuana by the time Obama left office. Though any use of marijuana remained illegal under federal law, the Obama administration generally chose not to prosecute those who used marijuana in states that chose to legalize it. However, some liberals and libertarians criticized Obama for continuing or even expanding the war on drugs, particularly in regards to medical marijuana. In 2016, Obama announced that the federal government would phase out the use of private prisons. Obama commuted the sentences of over 1,000 individuals, a higher number of commutations than any other president, and most of Obama's commutations went to nonviolent drug offenders.

During Obama's presidency, there was a sharp rise in opioid mortality. Health experts criticized the government's response as slow and weak.

Gun control

Obama called for gun control measures in the aftermath of several mass shootings, but was unable to pass a major bill. In 2009, Obama discussed reinstating the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, but did not make a strong push to pass it through Congress at that time. Following the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Obama outlined a series of sweeping gun control proposals, urging Congress to reintroduce an expired ban on "military-style" assault weapons, impose limits on ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, introduce background checks on all gun sales, pass a ban on possession and sale of armor-piercing bullets, introduce harsher penalties for gun-traffickers, and approve the appointment of the head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for the first time since 2006. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) attempted to pass a more limited gun control measure that would have expanded background checks, but the bill was blocked in the Senate. Despite Obama's advocacy and subsequent mass shootings such as the Charleston church shooting, no major gun control bill passed Congress during Obama's presidency, in part due to the power of 2nd Amendment activists such as the National Rifle Association. Obama's presidency ironically saw expansion of gun rights in the United States, as the Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. City of Chicago that the Second Amendment applies to the states in addition to the federal government. Obama signed into law two bills containing amendments reducing restrictions on gun owners, one which permitted guns to be transported in checked baggage on Amtrak trains and another which allowed the carrying of loaded firearms in national parks located in states allowing concealed carry.

 

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