December 9, 2015

Denying Rights to Combat Terrorism?

Pretty savvy political theater in the push for gun control.

In a Sunday speech he clearly had no interest in giving, Barack Obama spoke to the nation from the Oval Office in an attempt to address the fears of many Americans following attacks in Paris (130 dead, almost 400 wounded) and San Bernardino (14 dead, 21 wounded) by Islamic jihadists. He failed to assuage those fears, primarily because he once again proved that he is clueless as to the real threat and the real enemy.

To no one’s surprise, Obama used these recent tragedies to renew his push for more gun control in what was actually pretty savvy political theater.

Under the guise of combatting terrorism, Obama declared, “To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semiautomatic weapon? … We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino.” Then he mocked, “I know there are some who reject any gun safety measures.”

This is craven theatrics, but it will work on some Americans. All the public is going to hear is “no-fly list” and “guns,” and then they’re going to think, “Why do Republicans want to put guns in the hands of terrorists?” Mission accomplished for Obama.

But there are three glaring problems with Obama’s proposed “solutions” — one practical, one political, and the other constitutional.

The practical problem is that neither Syed Farook nor Tashfeen Malik (the San Bernardino terrorists) was on the no-fly list. In fact, none of the terrorists involved in Islamist terror attacks on U.S. soil have been on the no-fly list, so Obama’s “solution” would not have prevented these terrorists from purchasing guns. Furthermore, legal purchases are not the only means of obtaining firearms. France has far more restrictive gun laws than the U.S., and yet the attacks in Paris still happened.

There is also the fact that the government terrorist watch lists, which include the no-fly list, are riddled with errors. There seems to be neither rhyme nor reason as to how someone ends up on the no-fly list. There are more than 280,000 Americans with no recognized ties to terrorism on the watch list, including some who are on the list for no other reason than making controversial statements on social media unrelated to terrorism, or refusing to be government informants, or simply due to clerical errors. Indeed, none other than deceased Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) was denied flying privileges five times because someone with a similar name was on the no-fly list. (In this case, however, at least TSA had the distinction of stopping a man responsible for the death of an innocent woman).

In his condescension for us, the ignorant masses, Obama both falsely claims the weapons used were “assault weapons,” and then sets alight the straw man that there are those that reject “any” gun safety measures (can he name even one person who advocates this?). According to Obama’s own Department of Defense, “assault” weapons are weapons that are selective fire, meaning that they can switch between semiautomatic (one bullet fired per trigger pull) and full automatic (multiple rounds per trigger pull). Fully automatic weapons for private citizens have been effectively banned since 1934.

The constitutional issues with his “solution” are even more problematic.

Obama’s denial of gun purchases by law-abiding citizens would be a violation of our Second, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. American citizens have a Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, and the Supreme Court has acknowledged in recent years that this is indeed an individual right. It would also violate Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures without probable cause, and Fifth Amendment protections against being deprived of God-given liberties without due process. Arbitrarily placing someone on the no-fly list and denying access to firearms would constitute a presumption of guilt by government.

The placement of American citizens on these watch lists was so arbitrary and capricious that last year a federal court ruled that the federal government’s system for addressing objections by citizens placed on the no-fly list was unconstitutional, as the government would not tell those on the list why they were on it or how to get off the list.

While Obama is eager to use any means to deny Second Amendment rights to American citizens, one wonders whether he would be willing to immediately fire the 72 Homeland Security employees who are currently on the no-fly list.

Our illustrious federal paladins missed the fact that the San Bernardino terrorists had been wedded to their radical Islamist ideology for “some time,” and had been planning such an attack for a long time, even going to a local firing range just days before the attack to practice shooting.

Maybe Obama’s minions missed these jihadis because they were more focused on punishing Obama’s political adversaries. After all, it was Obama’s own IRS that targeted conservatives for scrutiny, harassment and audits. And it was Obama’s Department of Homeland Security in 2009, just months after he took office, that published an internal report entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” which warned that potential domestic terrorists included veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, those who oppose gun control, so-called racists (as we all know, all opposition to Obama is solely because he is black), those who believe in limited government, those who oppose illegal immigration and those who revere the Constitution.

But surely Obama would never use that no-fly list as a back-door method to disarm his political opponents and deny them their rights, would he? Let’s ask Stephen Hayes, a writer for the conservative Weekly Standard and a Fox News contributor, who found himself on the no-fly list. Hayes notes, “The way I got off of it was, Bret Baier on ‘Special Report’ was hosting Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson for an interview that was to be largely about immigration. And at the end of the interview, Bret raised my case and said, ‘Mr. Secretary do you think Steve Hayes is a terrorist?’” Soon thereafter, Hayes was removed. But most Americans don’t have those connections.

Patrick Henry, speaking at the Virginia Ratifying Convention of the Constitution, warned us to “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel.” Thomas Jefferson concurred, declaring, “In questions of power, let us hear no more of trust in men, but rather bind them down from mischief with the chains of the Constitution.”

No president has ever proven more untrustworthy than Barack Obama, and we’d be fools to trust his promises of security in exchange for us giving up our constitutional rights. So thanks but no thanks. We’ll cling to our guns and religion.

> Addendum:

> Rep. Trey Gowdy and the growing ranks of CONSERVATIVE Republicans in Congress are elevating the entire oversight discourse with constitutionally constructionist challenges like this one with a senior DHS administrator, regarding Obama’s no-fly list charade. The “testimony” of DHS “expert” Kelli Ann Burriesci is a fitting example of the bureaucratic SNAFUs that typify civilian branches of our bloated central government.

Jim Jordan on DHS and 40% of visa overstays….

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