So there’s a growing rift in the gun community over a bill that would give the government the power to remove one’s right to keep and bear arms if the government reasonably believes that individual is a terrorist or connected to terrorist activities. In short, one only has to be a “suspected” terrorist to lose his/her 2A rights, not a convicted terrorist.
A version of this bill will likely be voted on in the Senate in the very near future. To give you a little more background, this bill is based on the “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act,” and was introduced by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) following the shooting attacks in Paris.
The basics of the bill:
- Prohibits the sale or distribution of firearms or explosives to any individual whom the Attorney General has determined to be engaged in terrorist activities.
- Permits the Attorney General to withhold information in firearms and explosives license denial revocation suits if the Attorney General determines that the disclosure of such information would likely compromise national security.
- Authorizes the Attorney General to revoke firearms and explosives licenses and permits held by individuals determined to be engaged in terrorism.
- Allows any individual whose firearm or explosives license application has been denied to bring legal action challenging the denial.
Surprisingly, the nation’s gun lobby supports this approach to fighting terrorism, despite the very real concerns it raises about violating one’s Constitutional rights.
“The NRA believes that terrorists should not be allowed to purchase or possess firearms, period. Anyone on a terror watchlist who tries to buy a gun should be thoroughly investigated by the FBI and the sale delayed while the investigation is ongoing. If an investigation uncovers evidence of terrorist activity or involvement, the government should be allowed to immediately go to court, block the sale, and arrest the terrorist,” said the National Rifle Association in a statement.
“At the same time, due process protections should be put in place that allow law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a watchlist to be removed,” it continues.
The NRA’s position on this matter, which also reflects that of GOP presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump, has drawn immediate criticism from various organizations within the gun community.
One such group is the National Association for Gun Rights, which in a press release called on Trump and the NRA to reject any plan to remove one’s 2A rights without due process.
“It should scare every American that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or, for that matter, Donald Trump, could put law-abiding citizens on a secret list which would deny them their constitutional rights,” said Dudley Brown, President of the National Association for Gun Rights.
“And it would be shocking if the NRA or any allegedly pro-gun group supported such a scheme,” Brown said.
As NAGR correctly points out, the terrorist watchlist, which contains as many as 800,000 names, is far from a perfect system. The names of many law-abiding citizens have been incorrectly added to that list, including TSA employees, members of Congress an airline captain, a lawyer and even an eight-year-old child. Additionally, there is no way to check whether or not you’re on the list, short of being detained by a TSA agent when you try to board your flight at an airport.
No joke. As the FBI states, it “cannot reveal whether a particular person is in the TSDB [Terrorist Screen Database]… If TSC revealed who was in the TSDB, terrorist organizations would be able to circumvent the purpose of the terrorist watchlist by determining in advance which of their members are likely to be questioned or detained.”
So, it’s a secret list that inverts the paradigm of our justice system by maintaining that one is guilty until he/she proves himself/herself innocent. What this means is once you’re slapped with the suspected terrorist label you’re rights are suspended indefinitely, even without your knowledge. Suppose, though, that you find out that you’re on the list, now you may be able to sue in court, per the bill’s language, or file a redress complaint with the agency that put you on that list, but who knows how long it will take for the government to get around to setting the record straight (I actually looked it up, the average wait time for the redress complaint processing was 67 days, according to the DOJ. Still, there are no guarantees that they’ll be that swift each and every time). Meanwhile, your rights are deferred. And a right deferred is a right denied!
“Unfortunately Republican surrender monkeys in Congress, including Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), are actively working on a compromise that would, by the time it makes it through Congress, destroy due process,” said Brown.
“Simply put, gun control is the problem and Congress should be working towards repealing gun free zones that only aid terrorists and criminals in their rampages,” stated Brown, “But the absolute worst thing Congress could do is ram through poorly drafted legislation, ripe for abuse, in the middle of anti-gun hysteria.”
What’s most irksome to me is that we live in 1984. The surveillance state isn’t coming, it’s already here. Don’t believe me? Just do a little research and watch some of the talks given by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Our government’s surveillance apparatus — the tools and technology of the DHS, NSA, CIA, FBI — is amazingly large and sophisticated. They know way more about us than they let on. They know who owns firearms and who doesn’t. They know exactly who the terrorists are (think about it, they interviewed the Orlando shooter at least 13 times!). The old quip, which the FBI director used the other day, about finding a needle in a haystack is completely laughable nowadays when the watchers at these agencies have the capacity to pinpoint the exact location of every needle in that proverbial haystack (where it’s been, where it is and where it’s going). Simply put, they have an ungodly amount of power already. This bill, well, it’s just some more icing on the totalitarian cake.