In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, 29 year old Omar Mateen walked into a noted gay bar called Pulse in Orlando Florida and began firing a Sig Sauer MCX rifle and a 9mm handgun. When the ordeal was finished, 49 people were dead and 53 more were injured. The attack was labeled as the worse gun violence in American history, and it took almost no time at all for social media to ignite in a wildfire of finger pointing, blame, causes, and conspiracy theories.
As predictable as ever, the anti-gun advocates kicked into high gear and started screaming for a ban on all AR15s, a move that makes about as much sense as trying to ban the car that drove Mateen to the scene of a crime. Screams for background checks (that already exist) and bans on automatic rifle (which also already exists) rose up from has-been celebrities and social media divas from coast to coast. Even Congressional Democrats joined in the festivities by coordinating an epically ignorant 14 hour filibuster to force their GOP adversaries into a vote to ban anyone on a terrorist watch list from buying firearms, along with other blatantly unconstitutional gun reforms.
As much as I would like to pick up my pitchfork and scream for any American citizen of Middle Eastern decent on a terrorist watch list to be banned from buying guns, the more rational, big-picture thinking side nudges me and shakes its logical finger in my face.
You see, the whole concept of a terrorist watch list aimed at American citizens is highly unconstitutional and completely ignores the rights of the citizen. At the heart of the problem lies the Fifth Amendment, “No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process” , and the Fourteenth Amendment that says, “Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law”.
Senator Joe Manchin (D, WV) had an easy fix; get rid of due process! Seems legit for a political party that is trying to usher in totalitarian socialism, but for the rest of us with the notion of big-government-free liberty coursing through our grey matter, this poses a big problem.
First of all, how is an American citizen placed on a “terrorist watch list”? Of all places, and believe me, it pains me to say this, the Huffington Post ran an article on July 25, 2014 ( 7 Ways You (Yes You) Could End Up On A Terrorist Watch List, by Nick Wing). I suggest you read this, because Nick Wing nails it by writing, “Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux highlighted the extremely vague and loosely defined criteria developed by 19 Federal Agencies, supposedly to fight terrorism”. He goes on to tell us that you can be placed on a watch list by simply having crossed paths with someone that knows a terrorist, or even if an agent of the government checks a wrong box. No investigating, no due process, no defending yourself, just WHAM…..you are on a terrorist watch list!
Now, what could possibly go wrong with banning guns from people on a terrorist watch list? Forget all about the IRS (A Government Agency, cough, cough) singling out Conservative PACs along with other groups using conservative buzzwords in their titles for scrutiny. Forget about presidential candidate Hillary Clinton calling anyone that’s conservative an “extremist”. Forget about several Democrat Congressmen calling the NRA members and anyone else with a gun terrorists. Forget about President Barrack Obama calling the right “bitter clingers to their Bibles and their guns”.
Wait, don’t forget about that, because this is the very heart of the matter!
The exact same people that forced the Affordable Care Act down our throats because it was “needed”, will assure us that they have the best interest of the American People in their innocent little hearts, even though their track record screams the exact opposite. “We the People” would be insane to leave an unguarded open door for ANY party in the government or an agent thereof to place large swaths of innocent American citizens on terrorist watch lists and ban them from buying a weapon to defend their families and homes. Anyone that supports the idea of allowing random government agents to place anyone on a list without a specific set of constraints is either ignorant beyond comprehension, or perfectly fine with using the same technique Adolph Hitler used to single out Jews and other “enemies of the state” in Nazi Germany!
If our government insists on keeping these lists, which they will do with or without our approval, they can at least lay down guidelines so they can come a bit closer to the U.S. Constitution while they are out hunting “homeland terrorists”. I propose the following, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things, but at least this would help keep the Federal Leviathan under a little bit of control;
1) Any American Citizen being placed on a terrorist watch list should do so by court approval only, just like any other search and seizure (Yes, NSA, I’m looking at you).If there has to be a special non-partisan judicial panel to achieve this, so be it; I can think of worse things to spend tax dollars on.
2)Any list that the Federal Government or any agents or advisers thereof creates, whether good or bad, should be made completely public, and the American Citizen on said list should be notified within 24 hours of being placed on it so they can decide whether they are okay with being on a list, or they wish to hire the services of a lawyer and take the action to court.
3) The Federal Agency that puts an American Citizen on a list must prove that they have direct evidence of terrorist involvement or extreme behavior that may lead to such. The exact agent that puts the name on the list MUST be made available to the courts so he/she can be questioned for their decision.
4) If any Federal Agent, elected official, or employee of an elected official is found to be “targeting” American citizens for any self-serving purpose (Revenge, political strategy, etc.), it will be considered a Federal Crime and carry a mandatory 10 year prison sentence if found guilty. This is the most important criteria…it keeps people honest.
You see, “we the people” need to stop panicking and looking to the Federal Government every time a crisis arises. In the particular case of Omar Mateen and the Pulse shooting, the government failed on almost every level. The FBI not only knew the shooter, they were warned by a gun store that he was suspicious. Likewise, Law Enforcement could only stand outside and negotiate with Mateen after the 49 defenseless people were dead. Even the background check for Mateen to purchase the weapons he used turned up nothing…not even the fact that he had been investigated twice by Federal Agents. All of these are failed government actions, so don’t expect a group of hastily passed gun-control laws to work, either. Reality simply doesn’t work that way, no matter how much anti-2a advocates will attempt to convince you it does.
I know it seems counterintuitive, but the Federal Government needs to be put on a short leash before they diminish what’s left of our rights. You, yes you, need to start thinking more than ten seconds into the future and start taking personal protection personally. Like the giant FEMA billboard outside of my hometown says “Have a Plan”.
God Bless America!