Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy announced Thursday that he intends to screen any firearms transactions in his state through the federal no-fly and terrorist watchlists. He said “I am taking this common sense step with this executive order simply because it’s the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do. If you can’t fly without clearing government watch lists, you shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.”
That’s a hideous idea, Governor. It’s disgusting.
If you really want to use the no-fly list to decide things in this country, please first examine out how people get on it, and more importantly, how people get off of it. The former is frighteningly easy, and the latter is nigh on impossible.
Ted Kennedy was on the no-fly list. A US Senator. Well, sort of. He was stopped in 2004 trying to board a flight, and it turned out to be because someone on the list had used the alias “T. Kennedy.” It eventually got fixed (after several weeks), no doubt because of Kennedy’s pull as a Senator. Kennedy remarked at the time, “How in the world are average Americans who are going to get caught up in this kind of thing, how are they going to be able to get treated fairly and not have their rights abused?” How, indeed.
And the lists still have issues. Eleven years after the Kennedy debacle, we’re still getting tons of false positives on the lists.
The No-Fly list is a secret list with no oversight, and most disturbingly, no due process. That’s critical. Due Process is supposed to protect US citizens from “arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the Government outside the sanction of law.” If we don’t have that protection, then we’re no longer citizens. At that point, we’ve become subjects.
Malloy’s intent is to not only deny future purchases, but to revoke permits, necessitating the loss of any property covered by those firearms permits. In other words, he’s depriving citizens of property without due process.
People who support denying certain rights based on a secret list without due process or any kind of legal oversight are setting themselves up for a dangerous fall later. When you agree to infringe upon someone else’s rights, you’re also giving permission to infringe upon your own in the same way. That infringement might not come right away, but when it does, it will look very familiar to you.
If you’re advocating the use of these lists to deny liberty or property, would you also advocate putting someone in prison just for being on “the list?”
That’s not what this country was founded on. We’re supposed to be the good guys. We’re supposed to be the example for other countries to follow. And quite frankly, I don’t want other countries following this example.
Yes, there are people in this country who shouldn’t have guns. The law clearly defines that class of people. Getting put on a secret list without due process is not part of that class.
Secret lists sound a lot like what happened in East Germany, and the Soviet Union. Those are not countries we should emulate. Everything they stood for is anathema to the ideas of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those truths should still be self-evident, and they should still be honored and preserved.