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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Guns and due process

If the No-Fly list is bad for gun buyers, why is it good for people who want to fly?
By Will Collette

First, full disclosure: I am a proud Democrat and a “strict constructionist” when it comes to the Second Amendment of the Constitution.

I believe the Second Amendment means what it says when it puts guns in the context of “a well-regulated militia.” That is, if you are a member of the National Guard, Reserves or the police, you have the right to bear arms.

For everyone else, I believe the “right to bear arms” remains an open question and one that different Supreme Courts have interpreted differently.

I was proud to see the Democrats in the House stage a classic sit-in takeover to force the failure of Congressional Republicans to get their heads out of the NRA’s ass and listen to the American people who want sensible gun control, starting with a ban on weapons purchases by persons listed on the federal “No Fly” list.

I was stunned to hear Republicans argue against using the No Fly, anti-terrorist list –to restrict gun ownership as a “violation of people’s due process rights.”

The No-Fly list is one of many anti-terror measures that THEY were largely responsible for creating in the panic that followed the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

After 15 years, finally the Republicans are raising an issue that progressive have flagged for years about this list and other secret measures (wiretaps, reading e-mails of all Americans, etc.) taken post-9/11.

Republicans are essentially saying that it’s a violation of due process to deny a person on the terror watch list the right to buy an assault rifle and thousands of rounds of ammo because it’s almost impossible to find out why you were placed on the list and to have some legal means to get your name off the list.

But for all other purposes, it’s OK for the government to use secret lists and other means to surveil and curtail the rights of all American citizens.

If the Republicans really believe the No-Fly list is a bad thing, why aren’t they talking about its repeal?

After all, the right to freely travel is at least as fundamental a right to all Americans than the right to buy a firearm.

But that’s just a silly debating point, you might say.

But it is a more honest one than that used by House Speaker Paul Ryan and his minions to say you can’t use the No-Fly list in this one single instance, gun purchases, because it MIGHT violate the prospective gunman his due process rights.

I don’t want to distract from the vital question of what are we going to do NOW about gun violence.

But maybe we should thank Speaker Ryan for unintentionally drawing some overdue civil liberties attention to the bad legislation that the US put into place after 9/11. Maybe after they are done with their break, House Republicans will want to take up those issues.

And gun violence.