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June 16, 2016

Firing Blanks on Gun Control

Democrats push the same old bad ideas.

After a tense 15-hour standoff, Democrat hostage takers relinquished control of the Senate late last night. Their demand: Gun control, and lots of it. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), at the forefront of pushing for gun control ever since Sandy Hook in 2012, led the filibuster. He succeeded in extracting a small concession from Republicans: They will allow votes on two measures — so-called “universal background checks” and banning anyone on the terror watch list from owning a firearm. Neither, of course, would have stopped Omar Mateen, but that’s not the point. And neither bill is likely to pass the Republican Senate.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump announced he was going to meet with the NRA about the terror watch list idea. We hope that means he’ll clarify his stance on both the Second Amendment and due process rights to line up with the NRA, which has both issues correct. According to the NRA, “Anyone on a terror watchlist who tries to buy a gun should be thoroughly investigated by the FBI and the sale delayed while the investigation is ongoing. If an investigation uncovers evidence of terrorist activity or involvement, the government should be allowed to immediately go to court, block the sale, and arrest the terrorist. At the same time, due process protections should be put in place that allow law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a watchlist to be removed.”

A couple of points about the two proposals. First, there are already essentially universal background checks, but the question boils down to the information included in a check. Who defines what prevents someone from legally buying a firearm? And how accurate is the input to the system? Second, there isn’t just one terror watch list, and the lists that exist are based on secret evidence not up for judicial review. So people like the Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes wrongly end up on a list with little recourse for getting off. Denying basic constitutional rights without due process is not a solution — unless you’re a statist hell bent on undermining the Second Amendment.

Finally, it’s not a gun problem. As Mark Alexander wrote yesterday, “If ‘gun control’ were the solution, then there would be no terrorism in Western Europe — and (thus far), the European attacks have had far more casualties. Furthermore, the Orlando attack took place in a ‘gun free’ zone — apparently, the bloodthirsty assailant didn’t pay attention to the sign.”

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