This didn’t take long:
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) November 18, 2015
They’re arguing that the NRA and GOP politicians are blocking a proposal that would stop individuals on the terror watch list from buying a gun:
The legislation was initially proposed in 2007 by the Bush administration, with King formally introducing the bill in Congress two years later.
Currently, some known or suspected terrorists are prohibited from boarding airplanes by the government’s no-fly list — but all are allowed to buy assault rifles and other weapons.
While the bill remained a nonstarter, more than 2,000 suspects on the FBI’s Terrorist Watchlist bought weapons in the U.S. over the last 11 years, according to the federal Government Accountability Office.
The NRA’s objection to the bill is a little more complicated than the NYDN would have you believe. At issue is how an individual ends up on the watchlist in the first place and how it could be abused in the future to restrict an American’s right to buy a gun.
From the NRA:
Objections to the Bills
- As the name suggests, the “watchlist” is not limited to people guilty of “terrorism”1 or who are suspected of other acts serious enough to warrant their arrest. It broadly includes people “known or reasonably suspected to be or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism,”2 including those only “being preliminarily investigated to determine whether they have links to terrorism” and those “for whom the FBI does not have an open terrorism investigation.”3
- A person accused of serious wrongdoing has the right to know what he has been accused of, to offer evidence in his defense, and to be judged by a jury. A constitutionally protected right cannot be taken away on the basis of a secretive or unsubstantiated accusation. A judge should be allowed to consider evidence which may support the innocence of the accused.
- S. 34 and H.R. 1506 are aimed primarily at law-abiding American gun owners. Ninety-five percent of watchlisted persons are already prohibited from acquiring firearms in the U.S., because they are not U.S. citizens or legal resident aliens. (See below.)
- NICS already checks the relevant portion of the watchlist, and denies firearms to watchlisted persons who are prohibited from possessing firearms. Tellingly, S. 34’s and H.R. 1506’s sponsors could not name a single gun crime committed by a watchlisted person who purchased a firearm after passing a NICS check. (See below.)
- As D.C.’s and Chicago’s handgun bans have proven, prohibiting the possession of firearms doesn’t stop criminals from illegally acquiring them.
- There would be an enormous potential for abuse, if the FBI were given arbitrary power over a constitutionally-protected right. This would be true even if the FBI had an unblemished record where civil rights are concerned.
What other Constitutionally protected rights should the government take away just because an American citizen is on the watchlist? Speech? Right to attorney? Right to remain silent? Maybe the NYDN will lets us know!
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