News & Politics

ACLU Opposes the Use of 'Watch Lists' to Ban Firearms Sales

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While Democrat Congressfolk occupied the floor of the House, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent a letter to senators urging them to vote against an amendment that would use a “watch list” to deny firearm sales to Americans.  Republican Senator Susan Collins has proposed legislation that would use the no-fly list and the selectee list to restrict firearm sales rather than the broader “terrorism watch list.”

Not only are these lists full of errors, using a bureaucrat-generated list denies people who have been singled out a due process before their rights are stripped away.

“The ACLU strongly urges you to vote against the Collins Amendment because it uses the error-prone and unfair watchlist system, along with vague and overbroad terms, as a predicate for a proceeding to deny a firearms permit,” the ACLU officials wrote in the letter. “The Collins Amendment relies on both the No Fly List, by codifying its criteria, and the Selectee List, by direct reference.”

The ACLU states that the Collins Amendment “would impose a notification requirement that could result in a new ‘watchlist’ broader than any that currently exists.” The ACLU argues that the amendment would require officials “to be informed of each application for a firearm by any person who has been on the master watchlist at any point over the past five years—even if the person has been cleared of any wrongdoing, the investigation was otherwise closed, or the person was long ago removed from the list.”

However, the ACLU is careful to include their support of regulating firearms. The letter explains,

We recognize that enacting new regulations of firearms can raise difficult questions. The ACLU believes that the right to own and use guns is not absolute or free from government regulation, since firearms are inherently dangerous instrumentalities and their use, unlike other activities protected by the Bill of Rights, can inflict serious bodily injury or death. Therefore, firearms are subject to reasonable regulation in the interests of public safety, crime prevention, maintaining the peace, environmental protection, and public health. We do not oppose regulation of firearms as long as it is reasonably related to these legitimate government interests, and note that public safety interests encompass not only terrorism, but—more often— other firearm use that results in serious injury or death. At the same time, regulation of firearms and individual gun ownership or use must be consistent with civil liberties principles, such as due process, equal protection, freedom from unlawful searches, and privacy.

Democrats are still sitting on the House floor as of this writing and demanding “no fly/no buy” legislation be given a vote.