News and Commentary

6 Reasons The Federal Government Shouldn’t Just Ban People On The Terror Watch List From Buying Weapons

One of the scapegoats the left is blaming for the terror attack in Orlando, FL is Congress, which has yet to close a supposed loophole that allows people on the terror watch list to obtain firearms. The Senate is now taking up a bill that would ban anyone on the watch list from buying firearms or explosives altogether, with an appeal process in place.

This is not something the federal government should do. Here are seven reasons why.

1. It violates due process.

As The Daily Signal explains, all it takes is “reasonable suspicion” as well as “a sufficient level of identifying information” for federal officials to put somebody on the terror watch list. But according to The Federalist, that standard is so broad that “if some faceless Beltway bureaucrat decides you might be a terrorist, then you’re a terrorist. End of story.”

Consequently, many people–such as The Weekly Standard‘s Stephen Hayes–erroneously find themselves on the terror watch list, with a recent estimate of almost 900,000 such people in 2013. Once someone is on the terror watch list, they have no way of knowing, since the federal government is not required to inform them and there’s nothing that forces them to take anyone off the list.

If the Senate bill were to pass, then thousands of innocent, law-abiding citizens would be denied of their constitutionally-protected right to a firearm without their right to due process as spelled out in the Fifth Amendment. They might be able to appeal it, but then it would put the onus of evidence on the individual to prove their innocence, which is not how the legal system works.

“Ask yourself this: What happens when Donald Trump becomes president, and the precedent for denying people civil liberties according to their membership on a vaguely determined list has already been set?” writes National Review‘s Theodure Kupfer.

2. Anyone on the terror watch list can already be prevented by the federal government from purchasing a gun.

When an individual attempts to purchase a firearm, the National Criminal Background Check System checks the Known and Appropriately Suspected (KST) file–which is taken from the terror watch list–for a possible match. If the individual in question is on the list, then they are marked for “further review” and cannot purchase the firearm if they are “a felon, adjudicated to be mentally ill, a fugitive from justice, an illegal immigrant, or prohibited from making gun purchases for another statutory reason,” according to The Daily Signal. Often, individuals are still allowed to purchase the gun since the government lacks sufficient evidence to halt the purchase.

In other words, there isn’t any loophole–the current system already flags people on the terror watch list when they try to acquire a firearm.

3. Despite what leftists say, those on the terror watch list are not prohibited from flying.

“I don’t know why we have a process that would not let people buy a ticket for an airplane, but would allow them to buy a gun,” Sen. Angus King (I-VT) said in support of the Senate bill.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tweeted out something similar:

This is the standard leftist talking point with regard to the terror watch list, and it’s incredibly dishonest because, according to The Federalist, people on the terror watch list are actually allowed to fly, only triggering further scrutiny at airports. The no-fly list is also a smaller list extracted from the terror watch list, so to treat them as if they’re the same thing is disingenuous.

4. It would be more efficient to simply indict those on the terror watch list if there is enough evidence to suggest they’re involved with terrorism.

As The Federalist‘s Sean Davis points out, all the federal government has to do is charge those on the terror watch list with terrorism to prevent them from obtaining a firearm.

Existing federal law states that anyone who’s been indicted for any crime that carries a prison sentence of more than one year–and felony indictment for conspiracy to commit terrorism certainly satisfies that standard–automatically becomes ineligible to purchase or possess a firearm,” writes Davis.

The question that naturally arises is: if there are this many terrorists roaming about the country, why hasn’t the Obama administration prosecuted them?

“The simple answer is that there’s not sufficient evidence to indict, let alone convict, the hundreds of thousands of names included on the terrorist watch list,” writes Davis. “Once you realize that fact, you realize that the purpose of this bill isn’t to prevent ‘dangerous terrorists’ from possessing guns–the attorney general can already accomplish that with a simple indictment–it’s to prevent evil Republicans from possessing political power.”

In other words, it’s a political ploy by the left to distract from the fact that in the Orlando massacre, a radical Islamic terrorist was targeting gays.

5. There is a better alternative to the current proposal.

The Weekly Standard reported back in December that Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) proposed a bill that would have allowed the government to halt a gun transaction for up to 72 hours, allowing them a chance to prove that there’s “probable cause” that the individual is involved with terrorism and shouldn’t be allowed to buy a gun, which is how it typically works to obtain a search warrant. The bill had bipartisan support, and would be a reasonable alternative to the current bill.

6. The terror watch list is nothing more than a distraction, as the terrorist was removed from the terror watch list when he purchased a firearm.

The Orlando terrorist was taken off the list after two FBI investigations in 2013 and 2014, so he was not on the list when he purchased the firearm used to commit the murder, making the issue leftists are raising about the list nothing more than a sideshow from the real problem at hand: radical Islamic terrorism.