NY Times, Seizing on Fear, Pushes Civil Rights Restrictions

In the wake of the attempted Times Square bombing, the New York Times editorial board this week (5/6) lambasted the National Rifle Association and Congress for opposing further restrictions on the civil rights of U.S. citizens.

The Times wants Congress to deny a citizen his constitutional rights if the government suspects that the citizen has the potential to commit future illegal actions. In other words, if the government puts you on a so-called "watch list," you can’t exercise your unalienable, natural, God-given right to keep and bear arms.

However, in its rambling, unfocused, and totally disingenuous editorial, the Times ignores several salient facts…

  • The Times Square bombing suspect, Faisal Shahzad, was reportedly on the Department of Homeland Security’s watch list from 1999 through 2008. Then his name was removed from the list.
  • Nine years on the watch list, and being tailed by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, apparently did not hinder Mr. Shahzad’s acquisition of U.S. citizenship in April 2009.
  • The gun found in Mr. Shahzad’s car was purchased legally. Mr. Shahzad was on no watch list at the time of the purchase.

The Times notes that in the past six years some 1,100 “suspects” on the watch list purchased guns legally. Keep in mind that those citizens had NOT been arrested or charged, at the time of their purchases, and their locations were known to authorities. In fact, they were not “suspects” in the legal sense at all, merely persons about whom the government is suspicious.

Does the New York Times really crave a society in which the federal government can restrict the constitutional rights of citizens who have committed no crimes? During the Bush administration, the Times was outraged that the government might merely be keeping an eye on such people. During the Obama administration, the Times is willing to treat them as criminals without a trial.

To bolster the specious and alarmist argument that the failed bombing calls for a clamp down on civil rights, the New York Times trots out a reference to a recent drive-by shooting in Washington, D.C., in which four were slain and five wounded by a man wielding an AK-47 semi-automatic rifle.

How is this story different from Faisal Shahzad’s situation? Let me count the ways.

  1. The DC gun was stolen. Shahzad bought his weapon legally.
  2. The DC shooter discharged his weapon many times into a crowd. Shahzad never fired his.
  3. Police had tried to get an arrest warrant for the DC shooter after a shooting earlier in the same week, but prosecutors declined the request. On the other hand, Faisal Shahzad was not on police "radar" until after he tried to detonate a bomb in a crowded city.

In other words, the DC incident was utterly unrelated and dissimilar to the Times Square bomb attempt, but that didn’t deter these "professional journalists" from attempting to lead gullible readers to believe that, somehow, denying gun purchases to the un-charged and un-convicted will save the lives of teenagers on street corners or prevent terror attacks.