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Using The No-Fly List To Bar Gun Purchases Is Bad Policy, And Likely Unconstitutional

No-Fly List

In the wake of the nearly back-to-back mass shootings in Colorado Springs and San Bernardino there were, inevitably, the same calls for additional gun control legislation that we’ve seen in the wake of past such tragedies, but this time with an added twist thanks to the terrorism angle that the San Bernandino shooting took. Almost immediately after that shooting when it became apparent that there may have been some kind of terrorist motive involved, President Obama brought the issue up by calling on Congress to expand background checks to include people on the no-fly and other anti-terror watch lists. When the Senate voted on the matter shortly thereafter, though, it failed to get the votes sufficient to pass, and likely would not have gotten a majority in the Republican-controlled House in any case. That isn’t slowing the advocates of this idea down, though. Hillary Clinton has come out in favor of the idea, for example, and Connecticut’s Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy announced late last week that he was issuing an executive order to expand that state’s background checks to include the relevant lists as soon as the state is able to gain access to them. Today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced similar steps in the Empire State, although as in Connecticut the effort will likely take time since both lists are classified and not something the Federal Government has been willing ot share with anyone in the past.

Not surprisingly, many conservatives argued strongly that using the no-fly and terror watch lists to restrict people from purchasing weapons was a bad idea because of the Constitutional and other issues that it raises. As I wrote at the time, the numerous false positives that have been demonstrated to exist on the lists, along with the fact that the process by which someone is placed on the list is completely lacking in due process, as is the byzantine and largely impossible to navigate provide to get off the list, make it entirely inappropriate to use it as the basis for barring someone from exercising what has been recognized as a Constitutional right by the Supreme Court. While many gun control advocates have largely, and not surprisingly, dismissed these concerns, several pundits are beginning to recognizes the problems that this idea creates notwithstanding the fact that it sounds, as the President has said, self-evident.

Josh Sanburn at Timefor example, notes that legal experts have raised serious doubts about whether a plan like this is Constitutional:

The problem lies with the terrorist watch lists themselves, which are both secret and routinely updated without the typical due process given to those who are accused of breaking the law, such as court proceedings. Without a trial, the government can add anyone to watch lists who it believes may be a threat to national security—and exactly how the government defines such a threat isn’t even public knowledge.

“The government doesn’t release its criteria,” says Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty & National Security Program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. “It’s really a black box.”

Such an ad-hoc approach to these lists raises fewer concerns when they are merely used to keep track of potential suspects, but becomes more legally problematic when their many members are denied certain rights or privileges. The no-fly list, which includes individuals deemed too dangerous to board a plane, is just one of several lists reportedly used by the government, but is often the one that gets the most attention. The Wall Street Journal has reported that there are 16,000 names on the list, with the larger Terrorist Screening Database including 420,000 names.

In 2014, a federal court found the no-fly list unconstitutional because it denied those listed due process in challenging their inclusion. Since then, the U.S. government has said it’s providing more information to those who are on the list, potentially allowing persons banned from air travel to appeal and get their names removed. The ACLU, however, is still challenging the list in court, arguing that the government isn’t handing over enough information about how it populates those names. The civil liberties organization is also against barring those included from being denied guns for similar reasons.

“We are opposed to the use of terror watch lists, as presently constituted, to screen gun purchases,” said ACLU National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi. “We believe the lists are deeply flawed.”

Several constitutional law scholars say it’s these same due process concerns that make it unlikely a ban on gun purchases for those on the no-fly list would be legally permissible.

“We generally don’t take away rights based on suspicion,” says UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh. “The government has to have some proof. If all the government can say is we suspect you of supporting terrorism, that’s not enough.”

Goitein agrees the policy raises serious constitutional concerns, noting that individuals can make the list for a number of reasons that aren’t always made clear.

“It’s not just a question of due process and having the right to clear your name,” Goitein says. “The person also needs to be shown to be a proven threat of violence. And I think that bar is a low one.”

Over at Vox, German Lopez explains why even liberals who support gun control should oppose the use of the no-fly and other watch lists to restrict who can purchase a gun:

[T]he no-fly list is extremely arbitrary. People are added to it without even knowing that they’re on the list. There’s no transparent appeal process to the list, and there’s certainly no trial before someone is added to it. All it requires is the government’s “reasonable suspicion,” which can be derived from social media posts, that someone poses a threat to commit certain kinds of terrorist acts, and a vague process that involves several federal agencies. (The latest count for people on the no-fly list is 47,000, although only 800 are Americans.)

That’s why being put on the no-fly list is very different from being convicted of a felony or domestic abuse and then being prohibited from buying a gun. The closest analogy is denying a person a firearm because he’s considered mentally ill, but even that requiressomeone be involuntarily committed to a mental institution or that a court or other legal authority classify someone as “a mental defective.”

Democrats like Malloy have argued that their no-gun list policies would go hand in hand with a new appeals process. But there’s a catch: Malloy said he “would rather the appeal be after a denial” before a gun is issued, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Would Democrats be willing to accept this with any other constitutional rights? Free speech? Religious expression? Probably not. Just imagine having to prove that you have the right to make a political statement or practice your faith through an appeal process instead of just assuming it’s something you can do because it’s constitutionally protected. There’s no way that would fly, since it effectively flips the idea of innocent until proven guilty.

It’s easy to understand why politicians are latching on to the idea of supplementing the background check system with lists that include people who have been deemed too dangerous to get on an airplane or otherwise on a watch list as a possible terrorist. The President and others who are arguing in favor of the idea by framing it as ‘if you can’t get on an airplane, then you shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.’ However, that simplistic view of the situation ignores the numerous problems with the lists, which once included the time when the late Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy found himself temporarily barred from flying due to an error. It took Kennedy’s staff, working with the TSA and other agencies, three weeks to fix the error but the average American isn’t a long-serving Senator from one of America’s most storied political families and doesn’t have a staff with access to insiders at the relevant government agencies, so that three weeks would be, and has been, longer for the average member of the public. Moreover, as Noah Feldman argues at Bloomberg Viewusing such an arbitrary process to deny people rights of any kind is inherently problematic and not likely to actually accomplish anything. After, none of the people who have committed any of the mass shootings going back to the Virginia Tech were, as far as we know, on the no fly or any other terror watch list, including the shooters in San Bernardino, The fact that it wouldn’t have actually prevented any of those tragedies, combined with the numerous due process and other Constitutional problems involved argues strongly against latching on to this idea as a solution to any problem.

The great American humorist, reporters, cultural critic, and writer H.L. Mencken once said that “for every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” In the case of the complex issues involved in mass violence and terrorism, this is the perfect description for the “no-fly, no gun” idea, and precisely why we ought to ignore the temptation to get behind an idea that is, in any case, likely unconstitutional.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    I have a hypothetical question. Rather than denying people on the “no fly” list the right to buy guns, why not just throw them into jail? Isn’t that a more direct path to the objective? It’s a serious question. I’d like to hear the arguments.

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  2. ernieyeball says:

    @Dave Schuler:..It’s a serious question.

    No it’s not. Unless you want to be Trump’s VP.
    You can oversee his plan to deport all Muslims. Give you something to do besides preside over the Senate.

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  3. stonetools says:

    Here’s the problem with all the very good constitutional arguments: the right to speech doesn’t involve two people walking into a Christmas party and blowing 31 people away ( or for that matter, mowing down 20 children at a middle school, but the gun cultists have made sure we’ve forgotten that tragedy anyway). The right to bear arms is just different from the right to vote, or speak, or to free from searches because exercising those rights don’t give you the ability to kill lots of people easily.
    Note this part of the argument:

    That’s why being put on the no-fly list is very different from being convicted of a felony or domestic abuse and then being prohibited from buying a gun. The closest analogy is denying a person a firearm because he’s considered mentally ill, but even that requires someone be involuntarily committed to a mental institution or that a court or other legal authority classify someone as “a mental defective.”

    Now the argument there is convict somebody of some offense first, then you can restrict their rights. Sounds fair, right? Now, what’s the first crime a suicide terrorist usually commits?

    As Abraham Lincoln put it, “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” Interpreting all constitutional rights involves a balancing test. I don’t have a right to defame Doug, or broadcast my political opinions by megaphone on his lawn at 3:00 am in the morning.The police will use physical force to stop me from doing the second if I try, before I’ve said a word, despite the fact that the end result of my speech would not mean lots of dead people . The principle that there can be time, place, and manner restrictions on constitutional rights has been pretty well established, including with regard to the Second Amendment rights (can’t carry a gun into an airplane, a courthouse, or any NRA convention).
    Finally, I note that neither Doug or any gun enthusiast has said a word about keeping people on terrorist watch lists from buying explosives. Aren’t explosives arms, too?

    Now it seems to me it’s certainly possible to improve the various lists. Indeed, a better option may be specifically to have a “no arms list” with due process rights baked right in. Now maybe there’s some other better way to protect the American people from having terrorists walk into a gun shop, buy some AR 15s and thousands of rounds of ammunition, and walk out with a ready made arsenal. If so, then Doug and the gun enthusiasts can share it with us.But if the alternative to using watch lists is “Let’s keep things the way it is, and prepare to pray for the the victims of the next terrorist attack”, then watch list it will be.
    Of course, if the gun enthusiasts had gone along with universal background checks, waiting periods, and screening/training before people buy guns, things would be different. But no,the gun enthusiasts wouldn’t have that. So here we are.

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  4. grumpy realist says:

    Doug–what those who push the “no fly list ==> no guns” are pointing out is what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. That’s all.

    Basically they’re having fun watching certain individuals spin around trying to explain how you can identify someone as being enough of a terrorist to keep them from flying and still turn around and say it’s perfectly fine to allow them to load up with sufficient weaponry to blow away a similar number of people as are on a plane.

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  5. Michael says:

    Who are we kidding? If you are in America and have cash you can buy a semi-automatic long rifle. Just the way Madison wanted.

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  6. SKI says:

    Strikes me that the issue isn’t in using a No Fly List to restrict rights to purchase weapons (clearly someone that we are so concerned about flying shouldn’t be buying weapons rather) but that the current list is horribly designed and managed.

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  7. Gustopher says:

    @stonetools:

    The right to bear arms is just different from the right to vote, or speak, or to free from searches because exercising those rights don’t give you the ability to kill lots of people easily

    We don’t know that the right to bear arms means that you have the right to be able to kill lots of people easily. The Supreme Court’s only ruling on the subject, Miller, clearly states that the government can regulate machine guns. There is some upper limit of the number of people you are able to kill easily. Further, we don’t allow citizens unfettered access to nuclear weapons, so we know that number is below millions.

    Whether that number is a few (1-2), a handful (5ish), or lots (20-30) is up for debate, as is the definition of easily (there are laws all over the place on conceal carry (greatest ease for killing people), and trigger locks and gun safes (least ease for killing people)). A semi-automatic, high-capacity handgun is approaching the ease and capacity for killing that a machine gun had at the time of Miller, and is well beyond the killing power of weapons at the time of the Founding Fathers.

    I would really like the gun enthusiasts to explain just how many people they should have the ability to kill on short notice. Clearly, we have the second amendment, so that number is non-zero, and I accept that, I just want to know what that number is.

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  8. Jenos Idanian says:

    @stonetools: Here’s the problem with all the very good constitutional arguments: the right to speech doesn’t involve two people walking into a Christmas party and blowing 31 people away ( or for that matter, mowing down 20 children at a middle school, but the gun cultists have made sure we’ve forgotten that tragedy anyway).

    Interesting argument, but it falls apart with the application of one huge, overwhelming factoid that points out just how mind-bogglingly stupid the idea is:

    None of those shooters were on the no-fly list before they committed their crimes

    Mr. Schuler brings up a very valid point: if these are bad people, why don’t we deport them or lock them up or at least keep a wary eye on them?

    But yeah, let’s run with that idea. “We think you’re likely to do a bad thing, so we’re going to put you on this list and take away one of your Constitutional rights. No, we won’t tell you why we think you’re a bad person. We won’t tell you how you get off the list. We won’t tell you why you’re on the list, and we won’t even tell you you’re on the list. Hell, we won’t even tell you who puts people on the list.”

    Nope, no real worries for abuse there…

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  9. stonetools says:

    @Gustopher:

    I think that a result of terrorists turning to guns as the their preferred method is that we will finally move away from thinking of guns as having an exalted status that makes them different from other weapons capable of mass slaughter. If we stop thinking of guns as wonderful toys (see Matt), as necessary tools for self defense (See Jack ) or as symbols of freedom ( which is how Doug and libertarians view it) and see them simply as the terrorist’s most easily obtained means of mass slaughter, then we are inevitably going to change our view of the Second Amendment.
    Conservatives have painted themselves into a corner here. They have both demagogued Islamic terrorism as an existential threat (“we are at war with radical Islamic terrorism!”) and insisted on an absolutist interpretation of gun rights. Well, Islamic terrorists are now using guns to make war on American citizens, so now the streams are crossing. Note that most conservatives didn’t give a d@mn about the due process rights of people on no fly lists until about ten minutes after the San Bernardino shootings. Their solicitude for the rights of people on the terrorist watch lists has grown a thousand fold virtually overnight! That solicitude is going to sorely tested if there are yet more San Bernardino type shootings.
    After all, success breeds success and people inclined to do such things are going to take note that two committed amateurs were able to easy and legally acquire the means to kill a bunch of people and carry out a poorly planned but successful terrorist attack. Just imagine what ten disciplined and well trained people carrying out a carefully considered plan could do. Actually we don’t have to imagine , because ten such people attacked and took over a hotel in Mumbai a few years ago, killing 200 people. A similar sized group recently attacked targets in Paris, killing 132 people. In both cases the weapons of choice were assault rifles and handguns.
    In the event of such attacks in the USA abstract concerns about lists are just going to be discounted by the public. I think the gun rights of people on no fly lists are going to be the least of our civil liberties struggles following that.What certainly will change is the public’s view that guns should be easily available to all. We will see how it plays out.

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  10. stonetools says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Now that you have had fun beating that straw man, maybe you should answer my question: what is then to be done?.I’ve offered a plan: a separate “no arms” list with due process protections. An even better plan would be universal background checks, with waiting periods and mandatory safety training by instructors trained to flag wackos and would be terrorists. Those are my offerings. What do you, Doug , or Dave Schuler ,have to offer other than doing nothing and offering “thoughts and prayers” for the victims ? Here, you know the drill, go:

    1.
    2.
    3

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  11. Gustopher says:

    @stonetools: Alternately, it will be a concern for universal gun rights that keeps the Republicans from giving into their worst impulses on civil rights in general. That would be ok too.

    The no-fly list is deeply problematic, and the Republicans suddenly are willing to give lip service to reforming it when there is a threat to use it to restrict guns. Mental health care, same thing.

    If we can figure out how to move them from lip service to action, we would have an amazing lever for positive social change.

    I propose that gun owners be drug tested, for public safety. You need to be drug tested for a lot of jobs these days, or to collect government benefits, and it really won’t affect anyone who isn’t up to no good…

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  12. Jenos Idanian says:

    @stonetools: I’m SO glad you asked. What to do? The unthinkable: applying a bit of logic: as the number of guns has increased, actual violent crime has decreased. And the harder the gun-grabbers go hysterical, actual public support for gun control laws falls.

    You want an idea? Here’s one I saw recently that intrigues me. Maybe it’s time for a federal lawsuit to establish that the 14th Amendment applies to the 2nd Amendment, and strike down sate-established gun laws as unconstitutional.

    I don’t know if I agree with that, but I think that the harder the gun-grabbers push, the more possible it seems to be.

    Is that a great idea? SUre sounds better than “bad people won’t do bad things if we take away the tools from them — and from good people, too, while we’re at it, because they might do something bad someday.”

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  13. Jane says:

    It’s a distraction designed to obfuscate the fact that Democrats don’t have the guts to do anything either.

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  14. Gene Ralno says:

    Typically arrogant of Malloy to first deny one’s right and then allow him or her to hear formal appeals, to him and his ilk, to reverse the denial. He’s much too despotic for most Americans. In this case, he and his ilk would be authorized by law to deny the Constitutionally affirmed civil right to keep and bear arms. If he and his ilk can deny this, what’s next? Perhaps he’and his ilk would also be authorized to add names to the list. Or perhaps they’d deny criticism of this or that, e.g., islam or democrats. And what about the right to vote, perhaps just democrats or communists? Hopefully, the good people of Connecticut will see him for the opportunistic, power-hungry, tyrannical ghoul he is and kick him to the curb.

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  15. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Jane: It also distracts that the she-terrorist here got through the Obama administration’s screening despite some huge red flags, like her pro-jihad social media postings and she listed as her home town a place that doesn’t exist. Apparently she listed the Pakistani equivalent of Gotham City or Metropolis or Keystone City… and nobody noticed.

    Don’t wanna talk about those failures? Quick, GUN CONTROL!!!!!!!

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  16. Jane says:

    @Jenos Idanian: To me, they’re two separate issues. One is security, and you are correct that it was found wanting in the San Barnardino incident. The other is sensible regulation of firearms which covers everyone from the aforementioned to the wacko in Colorado Springs to the daily fatal “accidents” from unsecured weapons. I think there’s a discussion to be held on the latter that doesn’t have to involve banning all firearms.

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  17. tien says:

    Is the belief in gun ownership is absolute?, Everything a lone wolf attacker does up until the attack is legal, and the government is blamed when attacks occur, but is powerless to stop it from happening. Gun laws restricting access must be 100% perfect otherwise it is unacceptable, but little toddlers dying because a lack of gun safety is acceptable. Why make a big deal about an attack when the attacker can buy all the guns and ammo they want, and go practice at a shooting range. We drive and accept the risk that someone else might kill you on the road, why not accept the risk that someone might kill you with a gun when you go shopping ? why complain or feel scared, or worry about a future attack, when you think any gun restriction is wrong

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  18. JKB says:

    So eager to burn the Constitution. So, without amendment, there is an arbitrary decision to deny Due Process for an enumerated right. Let me wonder, once they have the guns, what is to stop them from using the lists to deny religious worship? speech? blogging?

    Most amusing is, like all the gun controller’s ideas, using the lists would be ineffectual against the worst actors. See, the CIA, DHS or the FBI don’t put their biggest targets on the no-fly list. They want them to fly, under surveillance, so they can be tracked to others.

    In any case, should someone on the lists try to purchase a firearm, notification to the appropriate agency is already possible and probably routine. They could probably put flag on the check that would delay the purchase, then clear up the paperwork just after the interested parties establish surveillance. See, that’s how it works for conspiracies and terrorist organizations.

    Oh, bonus is that once the lists are used they’ll be open for challenge and as we’ve seen ruled unconstitutional without due process. But you see, to defend the list, the government will either have to give in or reveal intelligence assets and methods.

    Knowing the Democrats, Hillary, et al, it is the exposure of the intelligence sources and methods that is their true goal. Anything to undermine American national security and help out our enemies. Is that true? Hmm, can’t prove it, but I’m sure The Donald will be able to make use of it.

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  19. Stonetools says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    So, nothing that would help the issue, then? That sounds so imbecilic that I’m not going to even ask how you think that would slow down terrorists getting firearms, since that’s coming straight out of a level of wing nuttery so deep that it imagines that the problem of International terrorism is just another distraction created by liberals to deny Americans their rights to get any gun, anywhere, anytime.
    Wow. Just when you think peak wing nut has been reached, they take it to another level!

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  20. Stonetools says:

    @JKB:

    Here, JKB, join the fun. I’m anxious to see if you can fail to the level of Jenos. What’s your plan to keep any would be terrorists, Islamic or otherwise, from acquiring guns to conduct mass slaughter? Here:

    1.
    2.
    3.

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  21. Todd says:

    On the merits, I agree; the no fly list is terribly flawed, and really shouldn’t be used to keep people off planes, or from purchasing weapons.

    That being said …

    As Doug alluded to at the end of his column, kudos to the Democrats for stealing from the Republican’s playbook. To most Americans, keeping “suspected terrorists” on the no-fly list from purchasing weapons sounds like “common sense”. It puts Republicans in the unfamiliar, and uncomfortable position of having to explain why this isn’t common sense, and shouldn’t be popular.

    Unlike Republicans though, Democrats don’t have a media arm that will unquestionably support their positions when they are so obviously wrong (as we see with the Vox story). So it’s not quite such an easy play to pull off.

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  22. Matt says:

    @grumpy realist: The level of intellectual dishonesty in your post is amazing. Either you’re intentionally refusing to learn anything about the no fly list or you’re so hard up on denying American citizens their rights that you don’t care.

    In this very post Doug provided an example of how Ted Kennedy ended up on the list and it took him over 3 weeks to get off it. You think Ted Kennedy was a terrorist? I never imagined you would be that kooky. That’s something I would expect from Jenos. So even though Ted was part of a family with a storied history that is known by about every single citizen inside the USA he still landed on the no fly list. Despite being a sitting senator with connections you could never dream of it still took him 3 weeks to get off the list. Your average person will spend years trying to get off the list.

    This is your terrorist?
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/10/baby-ordered-off-plane-for-being-on-no-fly-list_n_1505648.html

    You have no freaking excuse for being so ignorant about a subject that you constantly comment on..

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  23. Matt says:

    @tien: Except the vast majority of those lone wolfs are already breaking laws before the first shot is even fired.

    @Jane: Banning all guns and executing anyone found with one after conducting a house by house sweep for guns is the ONLY way you’re going to achieve what you desire.

    Even if you banned all guns today there would be little effect on the murder rate. Maybe 30 years from now it would have an effect except there’s a massive problem with that. Right now with a $25,000 printer you can print a gun that can fire thousands of rounds. In 30 years that printer will be as cheap and available as your desktop inkjet printer. What are you going to do when the drug cartels expand into gun running? Hell they are already building submarines to smuggle in drugs. Building guns is child’s play in comparison. We’re not living in an island nation like Australia or the UK so bans aren’t going to be remotely anywhere as effective.

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  24. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Stonetools: So, nothing that would help the issue, then?

    Why don’t you actually define “the issue,” then. It sounds like you think “the issue” is “too many guns,” and I reject that as a problem. And the facts back me up — as the number of guns rises, the violent crime statistics fall.

    So why don’t you start by defining “the issue” as you see it, and we’ll go from there.

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  25. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Matt: You think Ted Kennedy was a terrorist?

    While I think Ted Kennedy was a terrorist (his beliefs terrified a lot of people), I’d have preferred him on the “no-drive” list — he was a hell of a lot more dangerous behind the wheel than he was on a plane.

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  26. grumpy realist says:

    @Matt: Uh, dude, reread my comment. I am talking about what I think the STRATEGY and the ARGUMENT is that’s being used by those saying we should keep all those on the non-flying list from having access to guns. Stop thinking with the “gun-grabbers are evil!” part of your brain and start looking at the whole thing as an instance of TACTICS.

    And I think that some of the other commentators are right. The more terrorists take advantage of our lax gun laws, the more pressure there will be from the community to tighten said laws up. You can yelp about the Second Amendment all you want, but at some point people in suburban and urban areas are going to stop listening. They’ll say “yeah, you’re saying that because you’re out in the middle of nowhere and don’t take on the risk that I do. I GO to populated places that nuts are liable to pick as targets. Your crazy-ass take on the Constitution is making my life LESS safe and I don’t want any part of it.”

    Oh, you want to simply ban Muslims from buying guns? Good luck getting that one past the Constitution….

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  27. stonetools says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Your level of fail is epic.I said nothing whatever about the number of guns in the country, or about banning anything. I restated the issues a couple of times but since you have been programmed to spout “GUN GRABBER!” any time the issue comes up, like some kind of windup toy, you didn’t bother to read what I wrote, apparently.Let’s do it once again.

    What’s your plan to keep any would be terrorists, Islamic or otherwise, from acquiring guns to conduct mass slaughter? Here:

    1.
    2.
    3.

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  28. stonetools says:

    @Matt:

    Here, Matt, let’s give you a shot

    What’s your plan to keep any would be terrorists, Islamic or otherwise, from acquiring guns to conduct mass slaughter? Here:

    1.
    2.
    3.

    Note that we aren’t talking about drug cartels, printers, the general murder rate, etc. Interesting a distraction as all that might be, that’s not the topic.

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  29. gVOR08 says:

    I was on some form of no-fly list for several years, or at least someone with my very common name was. I couldn’t check in on line or at a kiosk. If I went to the counter and showed my passport, no problem.

    The linked VOX article says there are 47,000 people on the watch list but only 800 “Americans”, which I take to mean citizens, perhaps there are resident aliens also. But still a quite small number of people in the US. We have massive security assets. How many of those people are going to fly on any given day? Or buy a gun anytime? If these people really are suspicious, the best thing to do is watch them carefully, but don’t tell them they’re on a list. Give them as much scrutiny as you covertly can in airport security, physically search their checked luggage, and seat an Air Marshall across the aisle. If they buy a gun, focus covert surveillance on them.

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  30. stonetools says:

    @Gustopher:

    Alternately, it will be a concern for universal gun rights that keeps the Republicans from giving into their worst impulses on civil rights in general. That would be ok too.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the Republicans and the conservatives are going to use their powers for good. Instead, there’s been the usual mindless gibbering about “gun grabber ” conspiracy theories and talk about the ineffectiveness of gun bans.Elsewhere, Republican presidential candidates are talking about throwing out all the MOOSLIMS. No Republican dares mention that the previous gun terrorist attack-on Planned Parenthood- was done by an American-born WASP.So nothing is to be had from conservatives but demagoguery.

    I think that any reform of the no fly and terrorist watch lists is going to come from the Democrats and liberals. They would be looking to add due process requirements to the list and possibly engaging in more congressional oversight of the lists. Adding due process requirements to the lists would mean that anyone on the lists would be given notice that they have been placed on the lists and they could be then be given an administrative hearing in which they could challenge their placement on the list. That won’t please everybody, but the federal courts will be probably satisfied.Of course, the best solution would be rational reform of the gun laws but since Congressional Republicans would oppose that, that’s not happening.

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  31. jd says:

    @gVOR08: “I was on some form of no-fly list for several years, or at least someone with my very common name was.”

    I didn’t think gVOR08 was that common a name.

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  32. Jack says:

    @gVOR08:

    I was on some form of no-fly list for several years, or at least someone with my very common name was.

    And I believe, that is the very point. How many people would be affected if the name John or J. Smith wound up on the No Fly list?

    But let’s not worry about that. Let’s presume them guilty, take away their ability to fly and buy a firearm for self defense all because they have a name that someone who might be a terrorist is currently using. Let them then spend thousands of dollars and countless hours trying to get their name off said list. All because politicians decided we are no longer innocent until proven guilty in this country because we might have the ability to one day murder another.

    This is in addition to the obvious. Lets be honest. Banning gun sales to those on the “no-fly list” isn’t about stopping terrorists from getting guns, its about vexing the law abiding citizen and give the Democrats a way to instantly revoke the Second Amendment rights of their political enemies. This way the next “Joe the Plumber” that embarrasses another Democrat can be further harmed by the administrative state without due process and without regard for his rights (as a warning to the rest of us to shut up).

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  33. Rafer Janders says:

    @Matt:

    We’re not living in an island nation like Australia or the UK so bans aren’t going to be remotely anywhere as effective.

    Yes, we’re not living in island nations such as Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy…um, wait, what?

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  34. Jack says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Yes, we’re not living in island nations such as Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy…um, wait, what?

    Considering “France suffered more casualties (murders and injuries) from mass public shootings in 2015 than the US has suffered during Obama’s entire presidency this year (524 to 428)”, your point rings hollow.

    http://crimeresearch.org/2015/12/france-suffered-more-casualties-murders-and-injuries-from-mass-public-shootings-in-2015-than-the-us-has-suffered-during-obamas-entire-presidency-508-to-424-2/

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  35. grumpy realist says:

    @Jack: Dude, why are you frothing at the mouth about the inability of these people to buy guns and not frothing about the stupidity that got them on the no fly list without a chance to challenge it? C’mon–fair is fair. If the government is keeping people off airplanes because of their incipit “terrorism”, then we shouldn’t be selling them guns, either.

    Hell, I know that keeping me from flying is going to inconvenience me much more in my daily life and in my career than if I’m kept from owning a gun. I just don’t find owning a gun that important. If I were living out in the middle of nowhere, then yes, I’d probably be wanting to own a gun to shoot game and potentially protect myself (although a pair of large noisy dogs would be pretty good as well.) When I’m living in a well-policed suburb in an apartment? Useless.

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  36. Jenos Idanian says:

    @stonetools: What’s your plan to keep any would be terrorists, Islamic or otherwise, from acquiring guns to conduct mass slaughter?

    Here’s one step that should have been blindingly obvious, but clearly wasn’t: keep them out of the US in the first place.

    There were warning signs about the Jihadette in San Bernardino. But the Obama administration missed two huge ones. First, they didn’t check to see if her listed home town even existed. Second, they refuse to check on social media to see if they’re posting “DEATH TO AMERICA” while they’re applying to get into the US.

    The first is simple incompetence. The second is gross negligence.

    If we keep them out of the country in the first place, then we don’t need to worry about them getting guns, do we?

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  37. Jack says:

    @grumpy realist: You prove to me that every last person on the no-fly list has terrorist related information or participation, then I have no problem with it. The problem is I’ve seen law enforcement tell people that gave them lip that they would put their names on that list. Too many NON terrorist people are on the list for it to be effective without trampling all over their rights.

    On the issue of well policed…even police chiefs and sheriffs are telling people to buy a gun because they can’t be everywhere. Get their response time to zero and then we’ll talk.

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  38. Matt says:

    @Rafer Janders: Really you’re going to hold up France as an example of gun control that stops terrorist attacks?

    Really?

    That whole area has illegal guns flowing through it.

    Hopefully in the future there are more incompetents like the train terrorist and far fewer like in Paris.

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  39. Matt says:

    @stonetools: I cannot answer that question due to you limiting the scope of the conversation to the point that it’s a cartoonish shadow of what the conversation should be about.

    Well I can answer the question but it’s not relevant to reality.

    Ban selling guns to terrorists…

    @Matt: Meant to add that the whole area mentioned is still a fraction of the size of the USA and FAR more densely populated.

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