Drug-testing of welfare applicants violates Constitution

Today, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals voted unanimously to bar the state of Florida from forcing welfare applicants to undergo drug testing.

As the judges found:

“… the State failed to offer any factual support or to present any empirical evidence of a “concrete danger” of illegal drug use within Florida’s TANF population. The evidence in this record does not suggest that the population of TANF recipients engages in illegal drug use or that they misappropriate government funds for drugs at the expense of their own and their children’s basic subsistence. The State has presented no evidence that simply because an applicant for TANF benefits is having financial problems, he is also drug-addicted or prone to fraudulent and neglectful behavior.”

Exactly right. The state failed to offer “any factual support or to present any empirical evidence,” because no such evidence exists. As the judges went on to note, “there is nothing inherent to the condition of being impoverished that supports the conclusion that there is a “concrete danger” that impoverished individuals are prone to drug use.”

Nothing, that is, except deeply cherished stereotypes and a penchant for bashing poor people.

The bill creating the mandatory drug-testing provision comes out of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Last year, the Georgia General Assembly passed a similar bill, which Gov. Nathan Deal signed even though the Florida law had already been suspended by a federal district court judge. In fact, the Georgia law was so blatantly unconstitutional — and such a clear case of showboating and scapegoating — that Deal himself “suspended” its enforcement until the courts could rule on the matter.

Such laws are motivated by a cruel desire to bash and denigrate the poor, without regard to evidence or civil rights. If legislators had been truly concerned about the wise use of tax dollars, they could have mandated that HOPE scholarship recipients be drug-tested before receiving benefits, or that corporate CEOs be drug-tested before their companies could be eligible for major economic-development packages. The same logic would have applied.

But of course such thoughts never entered their minds.

– Jay Bookman

629 comments Add your comment

F. Sinkwich

February 26th, 2013
11:54 am

Dude, where’s my bong?

Corbin Sharpe. I think, therefore I am...I think.

February 26th, 2013
11:55 am

Yes,
Another example of Good Christian behavior…

Kamchak ~ Thug from the Steppes

February 26th, 2013
11:56 am

But…but…but…”Everybody knows” argument in 3…2…1….

F. Sinkwich

February 26th, 2013
11:57 am

But seriously folks, in general, it should not be easy to obtain transfer payments from the government. It should require a certain amount of inconvenience and stigmatization to get taxpayer freebies.

Kamchak ~ Thug from the Steppes

February 26th, 2013
11:57 am

F. Sinkwich

February 26th, 2013
11:58 am

“THIRD!”

Not intended to be a factual statement. **

stands for decibels - I got your "debt crisis" right here

February 26th, 2013
12:01 pm

a three-judge panel

sigh. I guess I have to look up just who appointed these judges, in order to know how likely this is to stand up to appeal.

Kamchak ~ Thug from the Steppes

February 26th, 2013
12:01 pm

But seriously folks, in general, it should not be easy to obtain transfer payments no bid contracts from the government. It should require a certain amount of inconvenience and stigmatization to get taxpayer freebies.

getalife

February 26th, 2013
12:01 pm

Pee in that cup and call it freedom cons.

getalife

February 26th, 2013
12:03 pm

I noticed the guv of Florida got off the dope.

Erwin's cat

February 26th, 2013
12:03 pm

I’ve been studying for that test for decades

st simons - he-ne-ha

February 26th, 2013
12:03 pm

bu…bu…the ‘moral fibah!’ and the ‘faaaaabric of societeh!’

barking frog

February 26th, 2013
12:04 pm

A conclusion that should have been well anticipated.

Peadawg

February 26th, 2013
12:04 pm

“they could have mandated that HOPE scholarship recipients be drug-tested before receiving ”

I’ve explained to you before, Jay, that students don’t see the HOPE money. It’s applied DIRECTLY to their student accounts.

crumpled fender

February 26th, 2013
12:06 pm

Not to mention the extra costs that would reduce the state’s coffers for drug testing.

Peadawg

February 26th, 2013
12:06 pm

“The state failed to offer “any factual support or to present any empirical evidence,” because no such evidence exists.”

Target and Ingles offered no evidence yet I still had to submit a drug test to be hired and work there.

getalife

February 26th, 2013
12:06 pm

Free the weed and tax it.

It is coming and you can’t stop it.

We need the revenue.

TBS

February 26th, 2013
12:06 pm

Liberal judges are doing nothing but taking us to hell…

yeah, that’s the ticket

philosopher

February 26th, 2013
12:08 pm

How good it is to see justice prevail over insanity…and every battle that crazed governor loses makes me grin from ear to tear.

SwamiDave

February 26th, 2013
12:08 pm

When most taxpayers are required to pass drug tests as conditions of employment thereby providing the funding for these programs and transfer payments, requiring beneficiaries of them to do so as well is a rational expectation.

I do not know if the legislation provided a mechanism for the person to re-apply which would be a reasonable comparison to the employee not being prevented from employment forever after failing a single drug screening. Likewise, providing similar mechanisms for appeal a false positive result would be reasonable (and something that most employees would not get).

TaxPAYERS on average would have little problem with this.

-SD

Keep Up the Good Fight!

February 26th, 2013
12:08 pm

Jay, typo in the last line… coursem

Joe Hussein Mama

February 26th, 2013
12:08 pm

Jay — “they could have mandated that HOPE scholarship recipients be drug-tested before receiving benefits, or that corporate CEOs be drug-tested before their companies could be eligible for major economic-development packages.”

Sounds good to me. Somehow I expect that XYZ Corp would getting much more in ‘taxpayer freebies’ than Jasper Q. Poorfellow would.

Peadawg

February 26th, 2013
12:09 pm

“Free the weed and tax it.

It is coming and you can’t stop it.

We need the revenue.”

100% agree with this one.

getalife

February 26th, 2013
12:09 pm

Another stupid con idea.

TaxPayer

February 26th, 2013
12:10 pm

What! Why I’m shocked. The cons didn’t have any unskewed data supporting their claims! What next? Nothing to support their claims that voter fraud is rampant amongst Democrat strongholds!

Keep Up the Good Fight!

February 26th, 2013
12:10 pm

Pea, private employers and completely different justification. A superficial similarity does not mean that they are the same.

Brosephus™ - Desktop but still Multitasking

February 26th, 2013
12:10 pm

Target and Ingles offered no evidence yet I still had to submit a drug test to be hired and work there.

And neither Target nor Ingles are government agencies/groups. There’s no existing law that mandates drug testing for employment other than specific jobs with security clearances and such within the government. No law mandates them for the private sector.

What you’re talking about is something that companies adapted from the federal government. Nobody’s ever taken that to court and nobody likely will because corporations know that people need jobs. Basically, they have us all bent over a barrel with no astroglide and no chance of a reacharound.,

ty webb

February 26th, 2013
12:11 pm

do it, but call it a tax.

Peadawg

February 26th, 2013
12:12 pm

Keep Up the Good Fight!
February 26th, 2013
12:10 pm

I disagree. The “no evidence” argument can be used in both instances.

Jay

February 26th, 2013
12:12 pm

Thanks Keep. Who needs an editor when crowd-editing is so much cheaper?

barking frog

February 26th, 2013
12:12 pm

josef
(from downstairs) history proves you correct.

stands for decibels - I got your "debt crisis" right here

February 26th, 2013
12:12 pm

100% agree with this one.

So do I, but I think the benefit of the cost savings from prosecuting / incarcerating users of this particular recreational drug will far outweigh any modest revenue we might derive.

Aquagirl

February 26th, 2013
12:13 pm

Target and Ingles offered no evidence yet I still had to submit a drug test to be hired and work there

16 comments before the “what about ME?!?!” post appears. Navel-gazing is officially in fashion again.

josef

February 26th, 2013
12:13 pm

IMAM

Boy! You’re on a roll today! Troublemaker… :-)

getalife

“free the weed and tax it.”

Yep.

and as for the thread topic…

how could they have decided otherwise?

stands for decibels - I got your "debt crisis" right here

February 26th, 2013
12:14 pm

most taxpayers are required to pass drug tests as conditions of employment

I suspect this is another problem that’d go away with single payer health insurance.

Jay

February 26th, 2013
12:14 pm

“When most taxpayers are required to pass drug tests as conditions of employment ….”

They are required to do so as a condition of PRIVATE employment. Under the U.S. Constitution, it is something else entirely when the government requires it. It is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment prohibition against warrantless searches and seizures.

Brosephus™ - Desktop but still Multitasking

February 26th, 2013
12:14 pm

I see the employee drug testing thing is going to spread like wildfire. Let me put this near the top so that hopefully, we won’t hear it through the entire thread.

http://www.dol.gov/elaws/asp/drugfree/drugs/screen92.asp

The majority of employers across the United States are NOT required to drug test and many state and local governments have statutes that limit or prohibit workplace testing, unless required by state or Federal regulations for certain jobs. Also, drug testing is NOT required under the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. On the other hand, most private employers have the right to test for a wide variety of substances. It is very important that before designing a drug-testing program you familiarize yourself with the various state and Federal regulations that may apply to your organization.

[...]

While private employers are not required to follow SAMHSA’s guidelines, doing so will help them stay on safe legal ground. Court decisions have supported following the guidelines and testing for only those drugs identified in them and for which laboratories are certified. As a result, many employers choose to follow them.

The current law in the private sector generally permits non-union companies to require applicants and/or employees to take drug tests. All employers should consult with legal advisors to ensure that they comply with any applicable state or local laws and design their testing programs to withstand legal challenges. In unionized workforces, the implementation of testing programs must be negotiated. Even when testing is required by Federal regulations, certain aspects of how the policy is implemented must be agreed upon through collective bargaining.

Grasshopper

February 26th, 2013
12:15 pm

“Good news!” — say the crack dealers of Miami-Dade

godless heathen - owner of many things he does not need

February 26th, 2013
12:15 pm

Such laws are motivated by a cruel desire to bash and denigrate the poor, without regard to evidence or civil rights.

So when my employer asks for me to pee in a cup it’s a cruel desire to bash and denigrate me?

Just damn.

Peadawg

February 26th, 2013
12:15 pm

“Who needs an editor when crowd-editing is so much cheaper?”

If only you would edit the false HOPE Scholarship statement, which I’ve called you out on multiple times.

Erwin's cat

February 26th, 2013
12:15 pm

Bro – What you’re talking about is something that companies adapted from the federal government.

It’s my understanding (which is sometimes wrong) that this was driven by the insurance companies. If a company had a screening program then the insurance companies would reduce the cost of their group insurance policies

lovelyliz

February 26th, 2013
12:15 pm

$omebody’$ got to $upport the drug te$ting companie$ that are $o friendly to the$e governor$ even if they mu$t do it with our tax $$$$$$.

stands for decibels - I got your "debt crisis" right here

February 26th, 2013
12:16 pm

The majority of employers across the United States are NOT required to drug test

oh. Well, forget what I posted @ 12.14 then, mostly.

Real Scootter

February 26th, 2013
12:16 pm

I can understand the judges ruling.I’m with Peadawg on this one.
If I have to pee in a cup to get a paycheck from an employer other folks should have to do the same to get a check.IMHO

josef

February 26th, 2013
12:16 pm

FROG

Yep. Some things are consistent in our Western Civilization…

stands for decibels - I got your "debt crisis" right here

February 26th, 2013
12:17 pm

it’s a cruel desire to bash and denigrate me?

yeah, pretty much.

Peadawg

February 26th, 2013
12:17 pm

“So when my employer asks for me to pee in a cup it’s a cruel desire to bash and denigrate me?”

Yup. I have to pee in a cup to earn my money. Why shouldn’t they?

Now, if you had argued the COST of such a program, THEN you’d have an argument and I’d listen. But the “no evidence, stereotype, crying” argument doesn’t mean jack.

getalife

February 26th, 2013
12:18 pm

In his second term, change has come to America.

Governments need a new revenue stream and weed is the solution.

Brosephus™ - Desktop but still Multitasking

February 26th, 2013
12:18 pm

EC

Not sure if it was the insurance companies or not, but I read up on it a while back and found that testing began within the government for certain jobs.

Erwin's cat

February 26th, 2013
12:19 pm

Bro – I was talking about it’s increased popularity and application in the private sector

rightwingextreme

February 26th, 2013
12:20 pm

Jay

February 26th, 2013
12:14 pm
“When most taxpayers are required to pass drug tests as conditions of employment ….”

They are required to do so as a condition of PRIVATE employment. Under the U.S. Constitution, it is something else entirely when the government requires it. It is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment prohibition against warrantless searches and seizures.

why???

Grasshopper

February 26th, 2013
12:20 pm

” Great news!!” — shout the meth-heads in Sanford

Aquagirl

February 26th, 2013
12:20 pm

So when my employer asks for me to pee in a cup it’s a cruel desire to bash and denigrate me?

If they only required drug testing in your department because it’s full of “those people” then yes.

Another charter member of the “what about ME?!?!” club. Move over, it’s gonna get crowded in there.

barking frog

February 26th, 2013
12:21 pm

Private employees that affect public safety are required to pass
drug tests before hiring and incrementally and randomly
thereafter. For others it is at the discretion of the employer.

Look before I leap...

February 26th, 2013
12:21 pm

“Basically, they have us all bent over a barrel with no astroglide and no chance of a reacharound.,”

The amount of tequila required to get THAT image out of my mind is going to necessitate a run to the liquor store.

Brosephus™ - Desktop but still Multitasking

February 26th, 2013
12:22 pm

Ivan

February 26th, 2013
12:23 pm

“Under the U.S. Constitution, it is something else entirely when the government requires it”

only when governemnt requires citizens to use its welfare.

josef

February 26th, 2013
12:23 pm

This is a sticky wicket, imeoiauo and I’m of mixed opinions. It IS an invasion of privacy, yes and requiring it of “welfare recipients” when not of state legislators is, well, somewhat hypocritic. However, I can see the logic with folks, say, in mine and Brosephus’ positions. The problem, there, though, is the cherry picking of which drugs show up…it’s not a test of “drugs” but a test of “illegal drugs.” That’s where I begin to have the problem. I know better than to smoke a doobie, but I can drink like a fish…

We wind up saying it’s okay to have the public security in hand if you’re a drunk, but not if you’re a pot head…

Granny Godzilla

February 26th, 2013
12:23 pm

“Yup. I have to pee in a cup to earn my money. Why shouldn’t they?”

.
.
.
.
A variation of the “i know you are but what am i” corollary as printed in
the fifth grade handbook.

williebkind

February 26th, 2013
12:23 pm

Corbin Sharpe. I think, therefore I am…I think.

February 26th, 2013
11:55 am

Yes,
Another example of Good Christian behavior…

And the blog numpty appears!

Brosephus™ - Desktop but still Multitasking

February 26th, 2013
12:23 pm

Look

My bad… I tend to get creative with descriptions, especially when I haven’t had any coffee. :)

————–

godless

Did you catch my note to you about your dog statement downstairs?

Jefferson

February 26th, 2013
12:24 pm

Chemical McCarthyism, give up your right to due process and you deserve none.

1811, etc.

February 26th, 2013
12:24 pm

A couple of points:

1) I had to undergo drug testing my entire federal career.

2) “Drug-testing of welfare applicants violates Constitution”

Right now that’s just your opinion until the SCOTUS rules on the matter.

3) Separate from drug testing (i.e., an arrest for the purchase or sale of illegal drugs) should welfare recipients be denied future funds ?

1811, etc.

February 26th, 2013
12:24 pm

SEQUESTERGATE !

What did Obama propose and when did he propose it !!!!

Brosephus™ - Desktop but still Multitasking

February 26th, 2013
12:26 pm

josef: It IS an invasion of privacy, yes and requiring it of “welfare recipients” when not of state legislators is, well, somewhat hypocritic. However, I can see the logic with folks, say, in mine and Brosephus’ positions.

I agree 100%, and I’ll add that I think they include alcohol in my testing, but I’m not 100% sure. I’m perfectly fine with being tested because of the nature and access of my position.

getalife

February 26th, 2013
12:26 pm

If you think giving a bodily fluid to government is okay, you are a con that does not believe in our Constitution.

barking frog

February 26th, 2013
12:27 pm

Truck drivers are required by federal law to pass drug tests
pre-hire, randomly, and post-accident.

godless heathen - owner of many things he does not need

February 26th, 2013
12:27 pm

Nothing, that is, except deeply cherished stereotypes and a penchant for bashing poor people.

And this:

Because substance use is a covert behavior, its true prevalence among the general and welfare population is unknown. Most studies have relied upon self-reports. Deceptive or inaccurate responses are therefore important concerns. Studies also differ in the thresholds used to characterize substance use problems. Some focus on simple use; others use more stringent thresholds such as abuse or dependence. Due to differing definitions and data sources, published prevalence estimates of use vary widely, from 6.6 to 37 percent of those receiving public aid.

– National Poverty Center, Policy Brief No.2

Brosephus™ - Desktop but still Multitasking

February 26th, 2013
12:27 pm

Separate from drug testing (i.e., an arrest for the purchase or sale of illegal drugs) should welfare recipients be denied future funds ?

Arrest: No
Conviction: Yes

There’s a big legal difference between the two.

1811, etc.

February 26th, 2013
12:27 pm

It is my understanding that:

1) The “Sequester” involves reducing the budget by 1% or $15 billion.

2) The federal government will spend more this year than last year even with the reduction.

3) SO WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ???

williebkind

February 26th, 2013
12:28 pm

Dang GG will you stop using those big words:
corollary – A practical consequence that follows naturally

1811, etc.

February 26th, 2013
12:28 pm

Brosephus:

I can live with that.

Jefferson

February 26th, 2013
12:28 pm

It will only be a big deal to your ass if YOU get days off.

Not So Casual Observer

February 26th, 2013
12:28 pm

Jay,

This is not a warrantless search or seizure.

If you want the job then take the drug test.

If you want the free money, then take the drug test.

Only a liberal would conclude those sucking from the government teat have a right to money taken from a taxpayer rather than the right of the taxpayer to expect the money is distributed to those with a REAL need.

Every problem facing the United States today is the result of liberals and liberalism. 51% of the people stated in November 2012 they did not wish to have jobs or go back to work. KEEP THE FREE STUFF COMING they declared.

getalife

February 26th, 2013
12:29 pm

scout,

Military leaders told you to shove your sequester today.

Now, it is big busniness’s turn to tell your party to back off.

ATL Born and Raised

February 26th, 2013
12:29 pm

Because the people who receive TANF never have had a job and paid into the system, right?

Doggone/GA

February 26th, 2013
12:29 pm

“A conclusion that should have been well anticipated”

Yep…because what that law amounts to is “guilty until proven innocent”

barking frog

February 26th, 2013
12:30 pm

1811
3) SO WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ???
…………………………………………………………
Beats me. Just like seatbelts, it’s the law.

Doggone/GA

February 26th, 2013
12:31 pm

“Target and Ingles offered no evidence yet I still had to submit a drug test to be hired and work there.”

And you were at perfect liberty to withdraw your application if you didn’t like their testing requirements.

1811, etc.

February 26th, 2013
12:31 pm

Brosephus:

Although one could argue that “civil” rules should be applied in those cases for puproses of determining future eligibility.

In other words, preponderance of the evidence (for civil conviction purposes) vs. beyond reasonable doubt (for criminal conviction purposes).

I could live with that better !

P.S.

As you know, someone can lose their car for transporting counterfeit (civil seizure) even though they might beat the criminal rap ! Just sayin’ !

williebkind

February 26th, 2013
12:32 pm

“Nothing, that is, except deeply cherished stereotypes and a penchant for bashing poor people.”

Drug testing for employers is pushed by the insurance companies. Insurance companies, you know the ones that make the law of the land.

1811, etc.

February 26th, 2013
12:33 pm

barking frog:

I hear you. Much ado ………… CHICKEN LITTLE !

Keep Up the Good Fight!

February 26th, 2013
12:33 pm

Let’s just get it on the record, not that our conned are fact focused but while Florida was drug testing welfare applicants, 98% of recipients passed. http://www2.tbo.com/news/politics/2011/aug/24/3/welfare-drug-testing-yields-2-percent-positive-res-ar-252458

TaxPayer

February 26th, 2013
12:33 pm

Republicans sure are good at illegal stuff.

lovelyliz

February 26th, 2013
12:33 pm

Requiring drug testing for welfare recipients is like abstinence only programs. An utter failure that our tax $$$$$$$$ will fund because it makes political donors happy

Litt

February 26th, 2013
12:33 pm

Of course no one here in Jay’s chorus wants to be drug tested. They would lose all of the money that they are picking from my pocket.

1811, etc.

February 26th, 2013
12:33 pm

getalife:

Even generals want to keep their perks !

“ADAPT, IMPROVISE AND OVERCOME” !!!

1811, etc.

February 26th, 2013
12:34 pm

P.S. to getalife:

We are still spending more than last year !!!

josef

February 26th, 2013
12:34 pm

BROSEPHUS

I know some might question my analogy here, but it’s somewhat like standing and reciting the pledge of allegiance, I may or may not agree with it, but when I signed that contract, I agreed to abide by the rulings/procedures set by the APS. And, in both cases, I can see the logic, so I submit.

Now, if in the case under discussion, they had said mandatory drug screening of EVERYbody getting a government check? That’s another matter…but, outside those with the public safety in their hands…? That doesn’t pass the smell test and gets into the “those people” arena….

1811, etc.

February 26th, 2013
12:35 pm

“Drug-testing of welfare applicants violates Constitution
11:50 am February 26, 2013, by Jay”

I didn’t know Jay was on the Supreme Court !

DownInAlbany

February 26th, 2013
12:35 pm

Jay

February 26th, 2013
12:14 pm

Sooo, the feds can force us to purchase healthcare insurance but can’t require a pee test to be on the government dole. Got it.

Corbin Sharpe. I think, therefore I am...I think.

February 26th, 2013
12:36 pm

Sometimes I am reminded of the movie “Demolition Man” from all of this…maybe it’s just me.
——————————–

“And the blog numpty appears!”

Willie, be kind…Where are your Christian values? Just turn the other cheek…you’ll be fine… :lol:

getalife

February 26th, 2013
12:36 pm

PS to scout,

Our President’s grand bargain is still on the table.

Why won’t your party take the deal?

Check mate.

Surrender or die.

Matti

February 26th, 2013
12:38 pm

I asked my State Senator who initiated this bill in Georgia last year if he would be willing to lead by example, and first require all members of the Georgia General Assembly to be tested first. You know, to work out the kinks in the system. He sidestepped by saying that HE gets tested regularly, an assertion I take with the grain of salt all his boasting merits. I then asked him how much it would cost the taxpayers to do this, and he said it would not cost US anything. (Right.) I then asked him if he had anyone — in mind — to DO all this testing. He started stammering a denial as his face grew BRIGHT red, beginning with his ears, then his nose, then his entire face. Uh-huh. He thinks we’re stupid.

Joe Hussein Mama

February 26th, 2013
12:38 pm

G. Heathen — Because substance use is a covert behavior, its true prevalence among the general and welfare population is unknown. Most studies have relied upon self-reports. Deceptive or inaccurate responses are therefore important concerns.

This is only peripherally related, but my wife and I are of the opinion that those ‘Snapshot’ devices that Progressive Insurance is presently offering (put the black box on your car and get a discount) will be *mandatory* within ten years.

In fact, there was a news story just lately that a NYT reporter slammed the Tesla Roadster after taking it for an extended road test up the Easter Seaboard — only to have Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk publicly claim that the black box installed in the car directly refutes a number of claims and statements the reporter made in his story.

Frankly, I think the issue is a broader one of enforced honesty and finding ways to get at facts that might not be easily (or even legally) found in any other way.

Real Scootter

February 26th, 2013
12:40 pm

And you were at perfect liberty to withdraw your application if you didn’t like their testing requirements.

Never thought about it that way Doggone,good point! I never had a problem passing a drug test but I didn’t like having to take them though.

saywhat?

February 26th, 2013
12:41 pm

Jay

February 26th, 2013
12:12 pm
Thanks Keep. Who needs an editor when crowd-editing is so much cheaper?
—————————————————————-
Shhhhhhhhhh! Not so loud. Your editor may decide crowd sourcing for content is cheaper than paying a columnist.

Doggone/GA

February 26th, 2013
12:41 pm

“I never had a problem passing a drug test but I didn’t like having to take them though”

Same here.

getalife

February 26th, 2013
12:42 pm

Hagel will be confirmed today.

If a con proposes an idea, it is usually a very bad idea.

We just keep on marginalizing these cons to bring change to America.

0311/8541/5811/1811/1801

February 26th, 2013
12:42 pm

“ABC broadcast edits out Michelle Obama claim that Chicago teen was killed by an ‘automatic weapon’ …”

When you have the press in your back pocket you get those perks !