Why I want "suspected terrorists" to have guns

I learned this week – as I’m sure my dear old mom always suspected – that I’m a terrible person who hates America and wants the terrorists to win. This became clear by reading no further than the opening paragraph of this screed from Cameron Joseph at the New York Daily News.

The NRA — and their gun-loving Republican cohorts — are refusing once more to stop terrorists intent on getting armed in the U.S.A.

Well, there you have it. You may as well send Homeland Security over to my place to pick me up now and then get ready for the apocalypse. When ISIS has gotten to somebody like me the country is clearly on the edge of extinction.

Of course, what Joseph is really upset about is the fact that the NRA, along with anyone who has ever read the Bill of Rights with any degree of comprehension, is opposing the latest attempt to pass the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act in Congress. (They probably just needed a snappier name with a better acronym. Nobody can even pronounce “DFEDTA.”) The intent of this bill, if you haven’t guessed already, is to make it illegal for anyone on the government’s no-fly list (or terror watch list) to purchase a gun.

Why would anyone in their right mind oppose this? Basically because that “watch list” is not a list of known terrorists. It’s not even a list of suspected terrorists. It’s a list of people who may or may not have associations with people or groups which may or may not make them worth keeping an eye on to see if they’re up to something. And it doesn’t take much to get on the list at all. The government keeps all sorts of lists which are generally distributed to the TSA. I’m pretty sure I’m on one of them since I haven’t been able to complete a domestic flight without finding one of those inspection tags inside my suitcase since I started writing at Hot Air.

So how many people does this particular list include? At the moment it’s more than 700,000 with nearly 300,000 who have “no affiliation with known terrorist groups” but seem suspicious. Who all can make it onto the list? Well, back when progressives still complained about the list (before it became a possible tool to take away guns) they noted that the list once included Senator Ted Kennedy as well as congressmen John Lewis and Don Young. I’ll grant you that at least a couple of names from that group were definitely worth keeping an eye on, but I seriously doubt they were strapping up with C-4 bricks and heading out to collect 77 virgins in the afterlife.

The always eloquent Charles C.W. Cooke at National Review answers the question of whether or not the NRA has a case to complain about suspending gun rights for people on the list.

Do they have a case? You’re damn right they do. Not only does the system rely upon names rather than identities — and thus yield ample opportunity for confusion — but, per the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, the meager due process protections that are provided are “arbitrary and capricious” and fly directly in the face of the Administrative Procedure Act.

As a result, the question here shouldn’t be “why does the NRA oppose using this list in a civil context?” but “why doesn’t everybody oppose using this list on a civil context?” Whether the New York Daily News likes it or not, the right to keep and bear arms is protected by the U.S. Constitution and cannot be restricted without serious cause.

You are free to suspend the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms but you need to prove that they’ve either committed some crime to merit it or adjudicate them as mentally incompetent after giving them a chance to defend themselves in court. Just having “a hunch” doesn’t cut it.