With all of the renewed cries for Gun Control since this month’s terrible Orlando shooting, the topic of banning citizens who have been named on the Terrorist/No Fly Watch Lists is beginning to dominate the narrative, with both sides considering the benefits and risks of this. While it certainly makes sense that people who are suspected of being terrorists should not be allowed to purchase guns, it’s the lack of transparency around these lists that worry myself and other gun owners, especially considering that the Obama administration continues to equate those with “right-wing” views as extremists and claims that these people, who you may call patriots, pose the same threat as radical Islam.
While the prohibition of firearm ownership of people on Terrorist Watch Lists and No Fly Lists sounds like common sense, here’s a list of some key points to consider:
- There is no formal due process when being placed on this list; the person being added to this list is often not notified and cannot appeal and prove his innocence.
- The criteria for who should be added to the list is largely unknown and therefore normal American citizens can be arbitrarily added for no reason without further notification or justification.
A good friend of mine is a good, but sad case. This person is on an FBI watchlist, and I couldn’t believe my eyes when he forwarded an email to me a couple of years ago where a Special Agent of the FBI in Miami requested to meet with him at his work. My friend is a young 20-something with a kid, a good job, very well-educated and possibly the least violent, aggressive person I know. Yet, after his interview with two FBI agents outside of a Starbucks in West Palm Beach, he would soon learn that things changed, even though the agents let him know that they didn’t feel like he posed a risk.
He was investigated simply because he asked too many questions – mainly, certain events that occurred around this time, such as the Boston Marathon Bombing, a trip we had scheduled to DC for the 4th of July, and his routine browsing of gun-related websites and magazines had thrown up a red flag.
About a year after his interview, I asked my friend to come with me to Orlando to help out at a gun show; I had way too many tables to manage and my friend, who again, is more of a ‘brains over brawn’ guy, would have made the perfect salesman. He quickly agreed but couldn’t drive up, so he booked a 30 minute flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Orlando. I was on my way to pick him up when he told me he was being questioned and that he would miss his flight. We were both confused.
As a result of my friend’s innocent internet browsing habits, he is on a watch list. Things have changed for him: he can’t check-in to flights ahead of time. He has to go through secondary screening where he is interrogated and thoroughly searched each time. He has to get his boarding pass from the airline counter, and each one of his boarding passes since his interview is stamped with “SSS” on the bottom right – he’s a “Selectee” and subject to additional screening.
Although my friend doesn’t fly often, he does shoot often. He is more of a collector than a tactical shooting guy, and could tell you pretty much anything you’d want to know about a World War II rifle just by looking at a picture on FB. And now, because of a heinous act an actual terrorist committed in Orlando, my friend could potentially lose his Constitutionally-protected right to bear arms because his name appears on a list among real terrorists who hate America and all it stands for.
My friend cannot have his name removed from the list, can’t file an appeal, and has been unsuccessful in his attempts to get more information through Freedom of Information Act requests. Not only has his 4th amendment right to due process been compromised, but he may soon be unable to defend himself against the increasing number of attacks by evildoers.
I’m all for making sure that terrorists, criminals and generally evil people can’t own guns, but we need to do this the right way. It is time for our Republic to make decisions “for the people” and not “against the people”, especially behind the scenes where they can’t prove their innocence and loyalty to America and its values.