IN the wake of the hideous acts of terror in Paris last November by the extremist Islamic group ISIS, gunban zealots here in the U.S. have perceived an opportunity they dare not miss—to exploit those murdered in France to advance their agenda of forcible citizen disarmament here at home.
One of the first moves has been the renewed effort to empower the Attorney General to unilaterally deny “suspected terrorists” the right to purchase firearms, without a conviction, without an indictment, without so much as an arrest or formal charges against the would-be gun buyer.
Such efforts are nothing new, with bills purporting to close the so-called “terror gap” being introduced in both chambers of Congress every year, going back at least as far as 2007. Those bills went nowhere, even with a rabidly antigun Democrat President, even when his party enjoyed a near super-majority in both chambers.
But those efforts have reached a fever pitch in the aftermath of the Paris atrocities, with anti-gun politicians, gunban advocacy organizations, and the mainstream media shrilly demanding this legislation with an intensity never before seen.
Democrat Presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton took to Twitter in November to state that, “After the events in Paris and with thousands of gun deaths in the US each year, hard to fathom this from the GOP,” with a link to a New York Daily News article titled “NRA, Republicans block proposed law to stop suspected terrorists from buying guns in U.S.” From the first sentence, the authors left no room for ambiguity about their opinion of opposition to such legislation:
The NRA—and their gun-loving Republican cohorts—are refusing once more to stop terrorists intent on getting armed in the U.S.A.
To illustrate how reckless and irresponsible it is to block these efforts, the article points to the thousands of guns that have been bought by people on the terrorist watch list, and to the low rate of rejection of such purchases:
While the bill remained a nonstarter, more than 2,000 suspects on the FBI’s Terrorist Watchlist bought weapons in the U.S. over the last 11 years, according to the federal Government Accountability Office.
The GAO reported that 91% of all suspected terrorists who tried to buy guns in America walked away with the weapon they wanted over the time period, with just 190 rejected despite their ominous histories.
These numbers are trotted out every time someone pushes such legislation. There is another relevant number, though, that these people never mention—zero. That, it turns out, is the number of acts of terrorism—or even some lesser violent crimes—carried out with these firearms. More than 2,000 such purchases, over more than a decade, and not one act of terror abetted by the sales. Apparently that doesn’t fit the desired narrative.
It should be noted, by the way, that the gun-ban zealots have an answer of sorts to the objection that the entire point of the Second Amendment’s protection of the people’s right to keep and bear arms is defeated if the Administration can simply designate those they deem to be political enemies as “terrorists,” and cancel their right to arm themselves.
Their reply to that is that the legislation contains provisions for the “suspected terrorist” to appeal the designation, and if he prevails, he can then purchase a firearm.
There are a couple of problems with this.
For one, as Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “A right delayed is a right denied.” A right delayed and maybe reinstated only after the expenditure of thousands of dollars in legal fees is a right denied even more harshly.
But that’s far from the worst of it. In the appeals process, if the Department of Justice asserts that revealing its evidence against the “suspected terrorist” would “compromise national security,” that information can be withheld, with the court apparently expected to simply take DoJ’s word on the merits of the accusations.
And it gets worse. Claiming that gun rights advocates, in opposing this and other forcible citizen disarmament legislation, are abetting terrorism, is no longer enough. Now, in the eyes of these people, the “gun lobby” (nearly always used as a synonym for the NRA) has become the terrorists.
Thus the Brady Campaign’s President Dan Gross has argued that the NRA should not be brought to the bargaining table to discuss gun regulation because, “This is not a negotiation with the NRA. We don’t negotiate with terrorists.” In this, he echoes John Rosenthal, founder of the Stop Hand-gun Violence gun-ban group, who says that, “In my mind it is a terrorist organization….”
Clinton went perhaps even further when, in 2014, in a reference to gun-rights advocates, she told a CNN “town hall” meeting that “We cannot let a minority of people, and that’s what it is—it is a minority of people—hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people.” Yes; she wants to prohibit a politically incorrect viewpoint about guns.
And don’t forget the media—they most certainly have not forgotten about gun owners. The New York Daily News described the NRA’s opposition to the “suspected terrorist” gun ban as “The NRA’s Sick Jihad,” while their columnist Linda Stasi demanded that the NRA itself be put on the terrorist watch list. Combine those two ideas and suddenly every NRA member is denied the right to purchase firearms.
But it’s even worse than that. The Obama Administration claims the right to assassinate “terrorists,” including those who are American citizens, using armed drones or whatever other method appeals to the government. The apparent efforts to disarm the entire NRA membership are beginning to gain a sick, twisted kind of logic. As ISIS could tell you, killing is much easier when the victims are disarmed first.
Those who want gun-rights advocates designated as terrorists are perhaps courting some pretty severe unintended consequences. If the millions of Americans who are NRA members (plus the hundreds of thousands who are members of more hardcore, less compromising gun-rights advocacy groups) are to be branded “terrorists” and face the repercussions of that designation, what incentive do we have to continue to refrain from using violence and force of arms to achieve our political goals?
If we’re already “terrorists” before we start fighting back with bullets instead of words, how much worse can our situation get if we really do start pulling triggers in anger?