On Watch Lists and Firearms

Today, the Senate failed to pass a few measure proposed by either party in response to the Orlando massacre. One of the measures up for a vote would have restricted the purchase of firearms for anyone under investigation of terrorism, on the terrorist watch list, or similarly designated.

I am sure the issue polled well; it certainly has many people I know upset, but getting onto a "list" isn't due process, and as long as the Second Amendment provides for a right to bear simple firearms, I can never support giving the government power to curtail rights because someone is on a "list."

A list is not due process. A list is not a legal finding. A list is pure government executive fiat, shorn of the protections we set for ourselves when giving the government power to prosecute.
“No one wants terrorists to be able to buy guns or explosives,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said on the Senate floor on Monday.
However, getting on a "list" doesn't make you a terrorist. You can be a victim of mistaken identity, get in trouble for having had contact with someone without knowing their past (guilt by association), or get on the list as a way to compel you to name other names.

Lists are not a path to justice. It disappoints me that people saw propagating them as a way to keep people safe.

Here are a few examples of laws I would have supported:

  • Legislation to restrict high-capacity magazines that enable full-auto and semi-auto weapons to kill many more people.
  • Closing loopholes that enable gun buyers to evade background checks.
  • Enabling waiting periods for all gun purchases.
  • Legislation to restrict firearm sales to people convicted of a crime such as domestic abuse.