It seems simple enough: If the federal government, based on intelligence or policing, puts a person on its watch list of suspected terrorists or decrees that he or she is too dangerous to be allowed on an airplane, then surely it would also be foolish to let that person buy a firearm in the United States. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
That was the thrust of a proposed law by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that her Senate colleagues rejected last week amid much political furor. The idea was resuscitated by President Obama in his Oval Office address Sunday evening. “What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semiautomatic weapon?” the president asked.
When he puts it that way, it does sound pretty stupid. But, in fact, there are several strong arguments against the proposal.
One problem is that the people on the no-fly list (as well as the broader terror watch list from which it is drawn) have not been convicted of doing anything wrong. They are merely suspected of having terror connections. And the United States doesn’t generally punish or penalize people unless and until they have been charged and convicted of a crime. In this case, the government would be infringing on a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution — and yes, like it or not, the right to buy a gun is a constitutional right according to the U.S. Supreme Court.
How certain is it that the people on the two lists are dangerous? Well, we don’t really know, because the no-fly-list and the broader watch list are government secrets. People are not notified when they are put on, nor why, and they usually don’t discover they have been branded suspected terrorists until they try to travel somewhere.
It is indicative of just how awful the idea is that an editorial board that is staunchly pro-gun control finds it flawed and publicly admits it.
The scariest aspect of the left’s assault on the Second Amendment is that it is willing to shred the First and the Fifth Amendments to achieve their goals. This is a truly precarious moment for American liberty. The casual disregard that that Democrats have shown for due process on this topic follows a couple of years where we have seen relentless attempts to remove it from college campuses. American universities have, of course, been even more diligent in their efforts to get rid of free speech with “safe spaces” and other such nonsense.
And it’s all OK with the left.
Perhaps this Los Angeles Times editorial is a sign that not all Democrats have lost their minds when it comes to the Constitution.