Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Much Ado

Today's NY Times has an editorial which made me blink a few times. Here's the thesis:

Under federal law, people who pose a heightened risk of violence cannot buy or own firearms, including convicted felons, domestic abusers, the seriously mentally ill and several other categories. Suspected terrorist is not one them.

Individuals on the government’s terrorist watch list can be barred from boarding airplanes, but not from purchasing high-powered guns or explosives. Bipartisan legislation in both houses of Congress would end this ridiculous loophole, commonly known as the “terror gap.”


That's blink number one. I mean, who could object to restricting gun sales to terrorists, right? Well, I would have agreed but for the insertion of the phrase "terror gap." Come on, didn't the editorial board see the movie "Dr. Strangelove"? That phrase made me go back and re-read these first two paragraphs.

Yes, we're talking about the government's terrorist watch list, a list developed by the Bush administration in response to 9/11, primarily because they were caught ignoring all the evidence and warnings from the Clinton administration and from our intelligence agencies before that horrendous event. That list contains thousands of names that don't belong there and doesn't include the names of a number of suspected terrorists who do, according to a March, 2009 DOJ Inspector General Report. The NRA, in response to the proposed bipartisan legislation, pointed this fact out (thereby providing one of the few times I have agreed with that group, which is blink number two).

The editorial tries to reassure such sceptics as I am at this point:

The terror-gap measure is more modest and balanced than its opponents make it appear. It would not automatically disqualify people on the watch list from purchasing a weapon. Rather, the attorney general would be given discretionary power to deny the issuance of a firearm or explosives in instances when the government has reason to believe the person may use the weapon in connection with terrorism. The authority would have to be exercised according to written guidelines. Due process safeguards are built in to permit the affected person to challenge a denial.

Blink the third.

Um, yes. That sounds reassuring. Due process, eh?

What happens when an individual actually challenges the denial? Does the government get to use the "government secrets" ploy? "No, you can't buy a gun, but the reason you can't is classified. Sorry, chump."

Look, I'm all in favor of gun control. I still don't see the reason any civilian gun enthusiast or hunter needs an AK-47. But I don't see why that unconstitutional terrorist watch list, comprised of names obtained by warrantless email snooping and wire tapping, should be used as the basis for anything.

Here's a quarter, NY Times. Go buy a clue.

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2 Comments:

Blogger the bewilderness said...

I suspect they would simply point to the watch list as a reason to deny the challenge.
Yanno, that watch list that can't be challenged.

11:57 AM  
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