Saturday, June 20, 2009

In Guns We Trust

Admittedly, I'm not much of a fan of the Terrorist Watch list, as I've mentioned before:

One of my major pet peeves (if you can characterize a desire to uphold our constitutional rights as a pet peeve) is the TSA's "No Fly List." My main objection is that The List is a secret list, with information gathered by the government from various sources (including, no doubt, the various illegal spying efforts that the FBI and others have engaged in), that has information about you that you are not permitted to see, challenge or be removed from. More Power than Law. The true size of The List is unknown. See, Big Brother Run Amuck: 435,000 Americans in "Terrorist" Database. Numerous errors have been reported, to no avail.

Despite my objections, I also believe that if we have to have The List, a process should be put in place that would allow a person who believes he is on The List to have a way to petition for review and removal, if appropriate. Rather than fix the problems with The List by paring down the numbers to those who may in fact be "terrorists," this over-inclusive list has grown even larger since I wrote about it 2 years ago. Back in 2007, the database contained over 400,000 names. Now, it's over 1 million.

Clearly, The List is riddled with problems. Yet, being on The List doesn't deprive one of all of our rights under our constitution. Thankfully, the right to buy and bear arms is a precious freedom that even The List cannot infringe.

A NYTimes article, On Terrorist Watch List, but Allowed to Buy Guns, reports:

People on the government’s terrorist watch list tried to buy guns nearly 1,000 times in the last five years, and federal authorities cleared the purchases 9 times out of 10 because they had no legal way to stop them, according to a new government report.

In one case, a person on the list was able to buy more than 50 pounds of explosives.

The new statistics, compiled in a report from the Government Accountability Office that is scheduled for public release next week, draw attention to an odd divergence in federal law: people placed on the government’s terrorist watch list can be stopped from getting on a plane or getting a visa, but they cannot be stopped from buying a gun.

Gun purchases must be approved unless federal officials can find some other disqualification of the would-be buyer, like being a felon, an illegal immigrant or a drug addict.
Responding to blogger Instapundit, who defends the gun purchase exclusion, No More Mister Nice Blog echoes my sentiments, in The Gun Is Sacred:
Well, terrorist watch lists are bad and Orwellian when they're full of mistakes and put together without due process. And the one we've got, yes, is quite flawed. I've criticized it repeatedly for ensnaring people just because they have common names, or merely share names with people who are under suspicion. And there need to be much better procedures for appealing inclusion on the list. But if we're using it to keep people off planes, or for any purpose at all, why is the gun so sacrosanct that it gets a carve-out? Oh yeah, I forgot: this is America, and the gun is God.
Yes, we must keep our priorities in order.

Above all, we believe in Life, Liberty & the pursuit of Arms.

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