Unconstitutional No-Fly, No-Buy Won't Prevent Mass Murder
And yet again the horrible idea is being pushed by Democrats and a few Republicans.
Watching the CNN town hall following the Parkland massacre — in which Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch were accused of being Nazis and complicit in the 17 deaths at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for daring defend the Constitution — reminds us of a truth written by 19th-century British journalist Walter Bagehot. He declared, “A democratic despotism is like a theocracy: it assumes its own correctness.”
During this inquisition, whenever Rubio or Loesch attempted to introduce facts or reason into the gun debate, a howling mob screamed and shouted them down. The mindless outrage, refusing to allow a different opinion to even be spoken, was reminiscent of the “Two Minutes Hate” in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 — every citizen screaming hate and fury for exactly two minutes each day while watching a film depicting the state’s enemies.
This is what public debate has been reduced to, with one side demanding the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens be stripped without due process, and accusing any dissenters of the most malevolent motivations and a desire to see children die gruesome deaths. It leads to a sort of security theater where “solutions” are proposed that do nothing to address the actual problem.
And while this is being mostly driven by Democrats (who, as Justice Clarence Thomas notes in his concurrence in the McDonald v. Chicago case, originally passed gun control laws in order to leave blacks defenseless against KKK mobs), even a few Republicans have joined in, most notably Arizona’s retiring Sen. Jeff Flake.
Flake introduced a bill that recycles a 2016 bill dubbed “No-Fly, No-Buy,” which would prohibit anyone on the federal government’s no-fly list from exercising his or her Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
As The Federalist’s David Harsanyi notes,“One day Sen. Jeff Flake is warning America about rising Stalinism and the next he's supporting a bill that strips the rights of citizens who’ve been arbitrarily placed on secret government lists without any probable cause or due process.”
Indeed, Flake’s bill represents an egregious infringement of the citizens’ First, Second, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights, giving often incompetent and/or abusively partisan bureaucrats the power to prohibit both travel and self-defense based on an inaccurate, extrajudicial government list.
Both the NRA and the ACLU, which agree on very little, nevertheless concur that the “No-Fly, No-Buy” bill is bad legislation, and even leftist rags like The New York Times and Los Angeles Times published editorials in 2014 arguing that such a ban is unconstitutional.
Why? The no-fly list is arbitrary; hundreds of thousands of Americans placed on the list have not only committed no crime but are not even suspected of committing a crime. By the government’s own admission, 40% of those on the watchlist have “no affiliation with recognized terrorism groups.”
The Washington Examiner’s Philip Wegmann reports, “According to congressional testimony from 2014, the FBI estimates that those lists ‘currently stands at about 800,000 identities.’ Those names aren’t public though, and neither is the selection criteria. There is only one way to find out if your name is in that database: try boarding a plane.”
The watchlist is so riddled with errors that Congressmen Tom McClintock (R-CA) and John Lewis (D-GA), as well as the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) found themselves on it. Despite their connections, it took months to get them removed. Granted, Kennedy probably should not have been allowed to drive a car, but that was no reason to keep him from flying. Regardless, if it took a U.S. senator and a congressman months to get off the list, what chance does the average citizen have of righting this injustice?
Though Democrats are pushing the bill, minorities will be hurt most, especially those of Middle Eastern descent with names similar to actual terrorists. That may seem ironic — until we consider the effect of most Democrat policies. Still, one would think Lewis, who gained fame for bravely defying racist Democrats while crossing Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965 and who was beaten with nightsticks by state troopers, would understand the right to defend oneself from violent criminals and tyrannical government alike is not a right to be lightly infringed upon. Alas, he does not.
While in the aftermath of this horrific tragedy it’s understandable that many feel a desire to do something, anything, to fix the problem immediately, the reality is that the solution will not be found in the law but in the culture; and an angry, screaming mob mentality that sacrifices Liberty for political expediency and a false sense of security is unworthy of the highest traditions of the American founding.
We wonder how quickly Democrats would change their tune if the proposed law prohibited these “potential terrorists” from voting or having abortions (after all, at least one innocent child is killed in every one of the 900,000 abortions performed annually in the U.S.).
Strange indeed that Democrats still call for the closing of the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay, declaring it a moral evil to imprison foreign enemy combatants without due process, even demanding constitutional rights for them. Yet these same Democrats (and, evidently, some Republicans) are all too eager to deprive actual American citizens, who have NOT been caught engaging in a violent act and who have NOT been accused (much less convicted) of a crime, of their own right to self-defense and free travel.
Guns are the tools of these mass shootings, not the cause. The cause is a society that no longer respects the sanctity of human life. The cause is a society that actively erodes the traditional family bonds that create good and decent citizens. The cause is a society that immerses itself in graphic depictions of violence while pretending it has no impact on our collective psyche.
It’s time to address the cause of these tragedies, while leaving our sacred rights intact.