“Thoughts and prayers are not enough. And it’s time for action,” said congressman Bob Dold during his address before the House on Tuesday.
Dold, a Republican from Illinois, was talking about enacting tougher gun laws in the wake of the mass killing in Orlando this past weekend that left 50 dead, including the gunman.
Specifically, Dold wants the House to immediately vote on bills that would ban suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms, require universal background checks for gun transfers, enhance the background check system to notify law enforcement when someone fails a background check and expand the law as it relates to prohibiting domestic abusers from gaining access to guns.
“In short, there are numerous commonsense proposals that will keep guns out of the hands of those that should not have them, while protecting our Second Amendment rights,” Dold said.
“There is no quick and easy solution to all the problems underscored by the Orlando terrorist attack. But if we’re able to set aside partisan differences and unite in the best interests of our nation, we can make serious strides in the ongoing efforts to keep Americans safe and prevent future atrocities,” he concluded.
Maybe it goes without saying, but there are legitimate concerns or objections to all of those proposals. For example, suspected terrorists are not convicted terrorists. Giving the government the power to slap a “suspected terrorist” label on any U.S. citizen with the import that it would deprive them of basic rights, i.e. the right to keep and bear arms, without due process is opening up a huge can of worms. An extra-constitutional can of worms, at that.
Requiring universal background checks is akin to placing a tax on the 2A, as very few, if any, gun shops will process a NICS check pro bono. Notifying law enforcement every time someone fails a background check sounds good in theory, but it may be a problem of information overload as many denials may be simple glitches within the system itself.
Lastly, federal law already prohibits domestic abusers from possessing firearms. Extending the reach of the existing law to accused domestic abusers as opposed to convicted domestic abusers (or those with documented cases of domestic violence) raises the same constitutional issues as the suspected terrorists measure. Can we permanently remove a basic right from someone before they had their day in court? Long story short, each new call for tougher gun laws has to be heavily scrutinized.
Yet, lawmakers like Dold believe that is the only way forward following a tragedy like the shooting in Orlando.
“The hateful terrorist attack targeting America’s (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in Orlando is another reminder of the pressing need to come together and work across party lines to root out terrorism, prevent gun violence and put an end to bigotry of all kinds,” he said.
“We cannot allow partisanship to define this debate,” Dold continued. “We must take decisive action and united action to ensure nothing like the attacks on Orlando, Paris, Newtown or San Bernardino ever happen again.”
While Dold may be one of few Republicans to call or more gun control, he certainly has support from lawmakers on the other side of the aisle. The usual suspects, Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer, are also aggressively making pushes to roll back the 2A rights of law-abiding citizens.
Both the senator from New York and the senator from California are pushing a version of Dold’s “suspected terrorist” bill, which would, as mentioned, give the government the power to remove one’s right to keep and bear arms if it believes one is an enemy of the state.
“There are currently nine categories of people who are prohibited from buying guns,” said Feinstein, earlier this week. “And those categories include felons, fugitives, domestic abusers, among some others. But they do not include known or suspected terrorists. And the bill we’re talking about today simply would close that loophole.
Schumer added, “If the FBI believes there’s a reasonable chance someone is going to use a gun in a terrorist attack, it should be able to make that determination and block the sale.”
“And now that we have lone wolves inspired by ISIL, even more the reason to do this than ever, ever before,” he continued. “It made sense 10 years ago. It makes even more sense today.”
The terrorist watchlist has over 800,000 people on it. Sure, only a small percentage are U.S. residents or legal permanent residents allowed to purchase guns, but are they all bad actors? Do they all deserve to lose their right to keep and bear arms? Should we trust the government to make that decision on its own?