Sen. Collins' Gun Control 'Compromise' Falls Short
Merely limiting the scope of whose rights are being stripped is not due process.
In the Senate today, four anti-gun measures are destined for the ash heap of history. To break Congress’ impasse on curtailing the Second Amendment, Sen. Susan Collins is focusing on a new “compromise” bill that still misses the target. According to The New York Times, “The legislation being drafted by Ms. Collins would bar the sale of guns to terrorism suspects who appear on either the government’s no-fly list or the so-called ‘selectee’ list, in which individuals are subjected to additional security screening before being allowed to board an airplane. Those lists are far more narrow than the federal terrorist screening database, which is the focus of a proposal sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, one of the four measures to be voted on [today].”
Critically, however, Collins’ “measure does not require federal prosecutors to demonstrate ‘probable cause’ of criminal terrorist activity.” In other words, persons on these lists are guilty until proven innocent. “Ms. Collins has proposed an appeals process that would award attorney’s fees to anyone who successfully challenged the government’s effort to prevent the sale of a firearm,” the Times explains. This “compromise” does not alleviate constitutional concerns, not the least of which is the fact that thousands of individuals shouldn’t be on the list.
Interestingly, even the New York Times recognized some of these issues. In 2014, Times editorialist Dorothy J. Samuels argued, “The No-Fly List Is Unconstitutional.” And last December, the equally liberal Los Angeles Times more or less agreed when it contended: “Should people on the no-fly list be able to buy guns? Yes..” The editorial board wrote, “One problem is that the people on the no-fly list (as well as the broader terror watch list from which it is drawn) have not been convicted of doing anything wrong [emphases added].” That was true then, and it’s true now.
The Collins gun control measure might limit the scope of whose rights are being stripped. But that’s not how due process works. What no lawmaker should be willing to do is compromise on Rule of Law.
And a final word from John Lott: “[T]he dirty secret about the four different bills that the Senate will vote on Monday is that everyone knows that none of them would have stopped the Orlando massacre.”
Note: Contact your U.S. Senators today.