Due Process and "Terror"

December 13th, 2015

The gun-control lobby is attempting to use the San Bernardino shooting for political fodder.  The problem is that the incident occurred in California, a state they consider to be a model laboratory for gun restrictions.

They've chosen to sidestep that issue, and they're proposing a new solution:  bar anyone on a terrorist watchlist from owning firearms.  If we don't look too closely, it seems sensible.  It also makes for good soundbites about security.

In practice, it's a terrible idea, and it's something that should offend anyone interested in civil liberties.

Consider the "no fly" list.  One has no way of knowing whether they're on it until they try to board a plane.  If they are, it's nearly impossible to find out why they're on it.  Aside from a feeble DHS program, there's no way to redress the situation.  Even that venue places the burden of proof on the accused.

It also bears mentioning that neither Farook or Malik were on the list.

It's troubling enough that such a system is used to interfere with air travel.  If it's used to strip enumerated rights without due process, it becomes something much worse.  Of course, gun-control advocates aren't letting that slow them down.  Consider Senator Dianne Feinstein's feelings on the situation:

(…) only individuals who are charged and convicted of a crime should be denied a firearm. That would be a critical mistake.

This is what comes of the "just do something" mentality.  It really has nothing to do with public safety–this is about getting a gun law, any gun law, passed while they can rely on public outrage.  Any rights trampled in the process are collateral damage.

…which is pretty much how we got the no-fly list in the first place.

3 Comments
  1. Bruce Nagel wrote, running Mozilla Firefox 42.0 on Linux

    One might be tempted to wonder whether the real goal isn't just to reduce citizens' rights, any of them, using whatever rhetoric is handy. The 'no fly list' is a joke to begin with and expanding its influence beyond travel without addressing its inherent implementation flaws would be downright laughable if the stakes weren't so high.

    It would be nice if US citizens got wise to this gambit of shoving through more restrictions on us in the aftermath of tragedies, but it appears we're collectively too apathetic.

    Comment on December 13, 2015 @ 12:29 pm

  2. Erik wrote, running Google Chrome 47.0.2526.73 on Ubuntu Linux

    One might be tempted to wonder whether the real goal isn't just to reduce citizens' rights, any of them, using whatever rhetoric is handy.

    Of course it is. It's glaringly simple:

    • ban people on a watchlist from owning guns
    • put everybody on the watchlist
    • let the prosecutions roll in

    They'd start with the names of every NRA employee, every corporate officer in the gun business, and every pro-gun blogger on Facebook. They'd probably throw a few of their political opponents in there for fun as well.

    Comment on December 13, 2015 @ 1:59 pm

  3. Petey wrote, running Google Chrome 47.0.2526.80 on Windows NT

    As a reader of yours who actually supports gun control (As a Chicagoan, I'm far more afraid of the proliferation of cheap handguns than "scary" military-lookalike rifles), I couldn't imagine a dumber way of actually going forward with such a proposal than combining the psuedo-legal black box that is the No-fly list with any aspect of gun control. Firstly, like you stated, there's not a good way of finding out if you're on the no-fly list, or why. Plus, often times we see murderous events carried out by people who weren't on the list to begin with. Secondly, let's pretend I'm a subversive of some sort who wants to carry out a terrorist attack. What better way of finding out if the government is watching me than attempting to legally buy the wimpiest firearm available?

    Comment on December 16, 2015 @ 4:20 pm

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