Donald Trump announced that he plans to meet to with the National Rifle Association to discuss barring people on terror watch list or no-fly list from purchasing a firearm.
He tweeted this morning:
I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2016
Keeping people who are not allowed to fly from buying a gun (legally) makes some sense, but there is a significant problem with doing this. You see we have this thing called the Constitution, and the 5th Amendment says that no one shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without the due process of law.”
It doesn’t take a whole lot to end up on the list. Fox News reported on eight different ways someone can end up on the no-fly list.
- Being suspected of direct terrorist activity.
- Travel to certain countries.
- Something you said in the past.
- Have a similar name to someone on the no-fly list.
- Not becoming an informant.
- Clerical error.
- Law enforcement issues
- Controversial tweets
The concept of the no-fly list has some constitutional issues as well so taking away a person’s right to bear arms based on it is troubling. Look, the last thing I want is to see a budding terrorist with the ability to purchase a weapon legally, but we don’t have a pre-crime division and the 5th Amendment is pretty clear.
The Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, was investigated twice, TWICE by the FBI for possible connections to terrorism and was not placed on those lists so would this really be effective anyway? Also people who intend to break the law generally don’t have a problem breaking it.
Update: NRA released a statement this afternoon.
We are happy to meet with Donald Trump. The NRA’s position on this issue has not changed. The NRA believes that terrorists should not be allowed to purchase or possess firearms, period. Anyone on a terror watchlist who tries to buy a gun should be thoroughly investigated by the FBI and the sale delayed while the investigation is ongoing. If an investigation uncovers evidence of terrorist activity or involvement, the government should be allowed to immediately go to court, block the sale, and arrest the terrorist. At the same time, due process protections should be put in place that allow law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a watchlist to be removed. That has been the position of Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Tex.) and a majority of the U.S. Senate. Sadly, President Obama and his allies would prefer to play politics with this issue.
This is a reasonable approach because it would force the federal government to go to court, provide evidence and actually arrest the person or clear them instead of keeping them on the list and banned indefinitely.