Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy says banning gun sales to people on federal no-fly watch lists is just “common sense.” While it may sound like common sense, take a moment and think about what the government terror watch list and one of it’s subsets, the no-fly list are.
These are arbitrary lists by federal agencies where the subject is guilty until proven innocent. Not everyone on the watch list is a terrorist. In fact, singer Cat Stevens, Senator Ted Kennedy, and Congressman John Lewis have all been on the list. Maybe you are, too.
Being on the list is not the equivalent of being an actual terrorist or a convicted felon. And the government already has a method of denying a firearm purchase. It’s called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and authorities can approve or deny the purchase.
Incidentally, even though lately the main stream media such as the New York Times, the New York Daily News, and others have been pushing hard for this legislation, that’s only because the terror watch lists would have the possibility of expanding gun control and restrictions. Before that, they were opposed to the watch lists altogether.
The New York Times published an editorial outlining the plight of Dr. Rahinah Ibrahim who, while evidently not a terrorist nor affiliated with any terrorist organizations, was not only on the no-fly list, but also had her visa revoked. It was an eight year battle for her to get her name removed from the list. While she was on the list, the Justice Department conceded that she did not pose a threat to the United States.
How can Dr. Ibrahim be a terrorist and not be a threat at the same time?
This would be laughable if it weren’t such a violation of basic rights. A democratic society premised on due process and open courts cannot tolerate such behavior.
In an odd reverse John Kerry-esque flip-flop, they were against the lists before they were for them.
And this is just the story of one person wrongly included on the list. There are many more.
Welcome to the shadowy, self-contradictory world of American terror watch lists, which operate under a veil of secrecy so thick that it is virtually impossible to pierce it when mistakes are made. A 2007 audit found that more than half of the 71,000 names then on the no-fly list were wrongly included.
And that’s just the number of wrongly included names on the no-fly list. That doesn’t include the larger terror watch list.
“But we need to keep guns out the hands of terrorists!”
Agreed; but this won’t do it. Syed Farook had someone else purchase his AR-15s. These “common sense” gun laws would have done nothing to stop that. But they certainly could deny law abiding citizens their rights should they end up on the list.