It has been a week since I and the nation awoke to the news that an Islamic terrorist had conducted the most deadly attack against American citizens on American soil since the 9/11 attacks. The shooter, Omar Mateen, entered a gay nightclub in Orlando armed with a rifle and a handgun and proceeded to shoot roughly 100 people, 49 of them fatally. Tragic. Angering. And, as usual, the bodies weren’t even identified before the howling about how it was all the fault of the NRA and Republicans who wouldn’t ban “weapons of war” from civilian hands. Following Rahm Emmanuel’s advice to “never let a crisis go to waste,” the angry Left in this country again sought to react to the news that an evil man had done evil things by demanding that Americans be disarmed.
And spare me the “we’re not trying to take your guns” lies, please. Oh, yes they are. All in good time.
The effort this time is centered on the notion that Mateen (and I’m naming him specifically because he’s a terrorist, not some loser trying to make a name for himself by killing other people) was, at one point in time, on the FBI’s terror watch list. Someone who is on that list, the saying goes, shouldn’t be allowed to buy guns. And again, the Left is seeking to impose by fiat what they have been completely unable to do through democratic means: deny citizens the right to acquire the means to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. The approach this time is to use a tool for the FBI to watch for terrorist activity and suggest that anyone on it be immediately deprived of their civil rights, in this case those that are explicitly protected under the 2nd Amendment. This is a disastrously bad idea and one generally suited to tyranny, not a free nation. It results in the deprivation of a citizen’s rights without due process.
The 14th Amendment is quite clear on the matter that no State – and that includes the US as a whole – may “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” which is generally understood as “fair processes.” This application of the terror watch lists fails this test utterly. Who is put on these lists is a matter left to an unelected, unaccountable, and even unidentified board or committee. There’s no criteria that a citizen is aware of that would see them put on that list and there’s no widely-understood process to get off of it once he’s on. In fact, the citizen has no idea he’s even on there until the moment comes when he tries to do something, such as take a flight somewhere or get a government clearance for a job. That person, once advised, isn’t even told why he’s been put on the list. He then has to go to court to petition to get his rights back. And this is the process we’re supposed to think is fair to be allowed to exercise our rights?
Even the ACLU – who has explicitly stated that they will no longer fight for citizens’ rights under the 2nd Amendment – has come out against the watch lists as being too nebulous and too difficult for a citizen to seek redress for in the case of errors. The watch list has famously tagged a 2-year old for “enhanced screening” at airports and even once delayed Senator Ted Kennedy getting on a flight for being a potential terrorist. It’s error-prone and, with the secrecy and lack of oversight, is ridiculously ripe for abuse. And that’s even before it could be applied as a weapon to keep Americans from arming themselves in defense of self, family, and community.
Democrats such as Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) are coming out explicitly saying that this whole due process thing should be set aside, that it’s “killing us.” That idea, and the fact that there are politicians now openly espousing them, is the reason the protection of our rights by due process is explicitly in the Constitution. I would remind Senator Manchin and others saying the same thing openly or not that the good Senator from West Virginia swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. If he’s unable to do that, then he should resign and do so immediately.
The dismissal of due process is not “common sense regulation,” it’s tyranny plain and simple. It’s the act of tyrants and fascist movements. It is a hideously bad idea that should be immediately set aside and those calling for it are no friends of freedom.