Thursday, June 16, 2016

Some Amendments Are Extra Special

From an unnamed Facebook friend (who's a lawyer, which I think adds a bit to his credibility):

OK, as is typically the case, the NRA and Republican posture on the "no fly, no buy" bill is laughable.

The Democrats' bill allows for anyone prevented from buying a weapon to challenge their inclusion on a watch list. The holdup from the Republicans has been that people might be accidentally or wrongfully placed on a terrorist watch list and therefore be temporarily deprived of their second amendment right to buy a gun, including an assault rifle designed to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time.

The Republican proposal demands advance "due process," such that within three days of a person on the watch list wanting to purchase a firearm, the justice department has to prove to a judge that they are trying to buy the gun for use in a specific terrorist plot. But that's completely inconsistent with the way law and order works.

Under our constitution people can be arrested and jailed based on the a police officer's suspicion of having committed a crime (remember the lady taken to jail for not using her turning signal), and indicted and jailed without getting to tell their side of the story or anything remotely approaching full due process; that happens after the fact. Same goes for search and seizure.

So, sometimes innocent people are arrested and spend time in jail if they can't make bail and are then later cleared (or never charged), and that's a price we are willing to pay as a society in the interest of collective safety. Republicans presumably are OK with the temporary wrongful deprivation of an American's liberty or property in this fashion, but blanch at the notion of temporarily depriving someone on a terrorist watch list of their purported Second Amendment right to purchase a killing machine.

And really, what's more likely to occur on a day-to-day basis: an innocent person being arrested, or an innocent person being placed on the terrorist watch list deciding to head down to the local fire-arm store for an assault weapon.

NRA = No Rational Analysis.
My friend didn't mention that the Republican plan would mean no person on the list would ever be prohibited from buying a weapon, because if authorities had probable cause to prevent the purchase under that standard, they also would have probable cause to arrest the person for planning an attack. But duh.

I find it amusing (though painful) that all of this may change the fact that there is no process to challenge your status on the no-fly list. If Congress passes some way to reverse the gun-buying prohibition (whether it's the unworkable Republican idea or the Democratic version), there will now be a process: All you have to do is try to buy a gun, and then you'll have a chance to get your name off the list.

1 comment:

Gina said...

Good grief. What I find particularly scary about this particular issue is the elected representatives in Washington don't seem to have the intelligence or ability to think rationally to see the absurdity in these arguments. It's the same thing with the argument that if every American were armed, things like the Orlando shooting would not happen. There was an armed security officer at the Pulse Nightclub who exchanged fire with the shooter and it didn't stop him.