With headlines like “Senate Republicans Vote To Allow Terrorists To Legally Buy Guns In The US“, the liberal spin machine is in full effect trying to remind Americans what bad guys Republicans (and NRA members) are for voting against this “common-sense” legislation. Unfortunately, this bit of legislation is just as poorly thought out as many of the Democrat party’s recent proposals have been.
It’s not clear whether they are referring to the terrorist watch list, or the no-fly list in their public pronouncements. It almost seems like they set out to confuse. As quoted in Western News Daily, according to Obama there may be more than one list: ““To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a No-Fly List is able to buy a gun,” Obama said Dec. 6. “What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security.”” Previous attempts to pass similar legislation have focused on the terrorist watch list, not no-fly-lists.
If Democrats were actually interested in resolving this, they might’ve done it in 2009 when they held the House and Senate. The topic’s been being discussed since 2007 at least, and the late Frank Lautenburg introduced legislation more than once, including in 2009 not long after Obama took office. It went nowhere, and for the same reasons the proposal will likely not get far this time around.
Taking away people’s constitutional rights is a serious matter. Taking them away without due process is even more serious. Obama’s words should be preposterous: “allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon…” yet there are some Americans who think this is a good idea. Since when do we take rights away from suspects? Who would agree to taking driving licenses away from suspected drunk drivers?
Also lost in the discussion is how someone gets notified they are on the list in question. The terrorist wouldn’t know they are on the there until they try to board a plane or buy some type of explosives or do some other banned activity, and then get denied. The same would be true of the gun sale: the buyer would come in thinking everything is fine and then get denied when the background check was processed. This would be a sure tip-off and if the person was truly a terrorist, they would probably change their behavior as a result. That does ring of Fast and Furious, the operation where the Government facilitated straw purchases for gun runners in the American southwest, with the intent of tracking where the guns went once sold (but subsequently lost track of the guns instead). In this case, though, letting someone who is simply suspected of terrorism exercise their right to buy a gun does not inherently place anyone in harm’s way, since being on the list is no evidence of your specific intent to do anything.
How does someone get put on the list? There is official guidance about who to put on the No-Fly list, and how they get there, in the public domain. Secret lists with secret committees don’t have a history of being in the public interest, though. The guidance indicates it “…requires screeners to contact the TSC if it receives a request for information or records that might reveal an individual’s watchlist status. Approval would also be required from any entity which provided information used by a nominator during a nomination”. This makes sense, since the simple fact of knowing they are on the list could lead a potential terrorist to the person who got them put on the list originally.
The terrorist watch list is too easy to abuse. There are reports of Government officials using the list as a tool of coercion: forcing innocent Muslims to become informants or have their name added to the list (The FBI Allegedly Used the No-Fly List to Coerce Muslims into Becoming Informants). If supporters actually thought it through, they might realize that a newly elected president might declare Black Lives Matter to be a terrorist organization and take their rights away. Does faking race-based hate incidents to incite a population count as terrorist activity? Nothing stops the Government from adding US citizens to the list and reports from a few years ago attest to the fact that as many as 24,000 people were on the list erroneously at that time. Liberals are willing to tax entire countries in order to “save just one life” but taking Constitutionally protected rights away from 24,000 people is seemingly just collateral damage in this case.
The problem really revolves around citizenship. If the only names on the list were non-citizens, the second amendment wouldn’t be a factor. Nor would due process, at least as we know it here. We don’t give due process to every citizen of a country we’re at war with.
A solution that could be considered middle ground would be to create a separate list – call it Enemy Combatants. If someone is a potential terrorist, especially if they are facilitating terrorist activity (like providing a safehouse, communications, transportation, funds, transfer of funds, or move fake ID’s as the watchlist guidance suggests), they are an enemy combatant. Administrative and support personnel are still part of the enemy army, and they should be treated like that. If they’re an American citizen, revoke their passport. That way, we end up not even needing a list – either you’re a US citizen and your rights are protected, or you’re an enemy combatant who isn’t subject to the protections of the US Constitution.
All of this is moot, though, because the legislation was really never meant to pass. It was unconstitutional when it was first proposed in 2007, when it was brought back up in 2009, in 2012, and it still is in 2015. Democrats think they win no matter what happens if they keep bringing it up – if it gets voted down, they propagandize that Republicans don’t really try keeping people safe. If it were to somehow pass, they get to propagandize that they did something to keep people safe – even though rational people know that this effort will do virtually nothing to keep determined terrorists from killing Americans. What should really incense us is that Democrats are so willing to put our rights on the line for a propaganda victory. Is the Constitution so cheap to them? Did they even take into account the constitutionality of the proposal when they brought it up, or is it an afterthought at this point?
There is no clearer example of the situation that Ben Franklin warned us about when he said something like “Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”. Democrats may be willing to make that trade, but Conservatives should not.