Sen. Steve Symms says a "bounty hunter statute" encouraging people to report drug users to authorities would help curb the use of illegal substances.
"We've got to target drug users," Symms, R-Idaho, told reporters in Idaho Falls during a teleconference Tuesday. Symms, who recently voted to impose a death penalty for those convicted of drug-related murders, called for a drug-free workplace.Symms also said he also would favor mandatory life prison sentences for those convicted three times on drug charges and a "bounty hunter statute" to encourage people to turn in drug users.
When asked about possible constitutional problems with those proposals, Symms said that those in a workplace also have rights. He said employers should have the right to impose drug testing.
"Employers who have to sign checks have the right to demand that employees don't use drugs," Symms said.
Symms said he is part of a group of senators backing a proposal by the Heritage Foundation, a conservate think tank, calling for a drug-free America by 1995. He said the administration has proposed legislation containing many elements of the foundation's proposal.
Part of the battle, he said, is a change in attitudes.
"As long as there's a big profit in cocaine trade . . . there's no way to stop some from getting through," Symms said.
"Up to now, the United States as a society has not thought of cocaine as anything but a recreational drug," he said.
If the foundation's program doesn't work, Symms said, the nation might take a serious look at legalizing drugs. That would be one way to keep down profits from drug sales, he said.
Symms agreed that enforcement procedures are not working, but said other steps should be taken before the nation looks at legalizing drugs.
"We could do better," he said.
Symms, who is a member of the Armed Services Committee, held the teleconference after hearing testimony Tuesday on the extent of military involvement in drug enforcement.
"The committee is trying to come to some rational conclusion on how much military should be used to combat drugs," he said.
The military could lend aircraft for surveillance and have some limited arrest authority, Symms said. Be he added that lawmakers must be careful about the extent of military involvement. The military should not lose sight of its main purpose, he added.
"We don't really want to have the U.S. armed forces in a position where they are going out and making arrests of U.S. citizens and getting involved in law enforcement," Symms said.