Nate Jackson / June 22, 2016

GOP Seeks to Thread the 2A Needle

Preventing future attacks while protecting constitutional rights?

After four gun measures failed in the Senate on Monday, several senators announced a compromise Tuesday on which they seek a vote Thursday. Essentially, this new bill bars individuals on the FBI’s “no-fly” and “selectee” (i.e., additional screening required) lists from purchasing firearms. People on the broader watch list at any point in the last five years could still buy guns, but the FBI would be notified.

“We are not finished with this war on terrorism,” said bill co-author Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). “We want to help prevent future attacks while also protecting people’s constitutional rights. We feel like we thread the needle as best as we can.” However, the NRA and Gun Owners of America oppose the proposal for not doing enough to protect Second and Fifth Amendment rights.

So here’s the bottom line:

A horrific terrorist assault elevated this issue. The attack and how we deal with it should be about Islamist terrorism, not guns. But Democrats, as they always do, changed the subject to guns, so Republicans face a PR problem during a big election year. Unfortunately for the GOP, all most Americans are going to hear from the Democrats’ Leftmedia super PAC is that “Republicans want terrorists to buy guns.” That’s nothing more than jackass braying, but a significant portion of the public will remember it.

Yet there does need to be clarity on the terrorist watch lists. How are people put on it? If wrongly so, how do they get off the list? What constitutes sufficient evidence, and which side has to provide it, for denying constitutional rights? Remember, these are people put on lists by bureaucrats; they have not been convicted of any crime. And we all know that bureaucrats can act in an arbitrary and capricious manner. The compromise bill puts the “burden of proof” on the attorney general, but that doesn’t ease all concern. Republicans have so far outmaneuvered Democrats and are trying to keep the focus on terrorism. After all, France has some pretty tough gun control laws that didn’t save a single life in Paris last year.

Note: Contact your U.S. senators today.

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