Handgun and American flag composite

The “Terror Watch List” Idea Sounds Better Than It Is

“[A]s it now stands, one would hardly be surprised to find Lois Lerner suddenly in charge of the terror watch list. That makes this a terrible idea.”

This election is coming down to two candidates who want to dramatically curtail the Bill of Rights without due process.

Donald Trump wants to shut down anyone from criticizing him by curtailing the rights of individuals under the First Amendment’s freedom of speech.

Hillary Clinton wants to shut down a person’s right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment.

Neither wants to amend the constitution, but do it by legislation or fiat. Neither is acceptable.

In the case of the Second Amendment, it sounds great to say we will ban any individual from purchasing a gun if that person is on the terror watch list. The problem, of course, is that the government has been known to make massive mistakes in that list and has put people on it who clearly had no business being on it. The government has also failed to take people off the list in a timely manner when it was revealed they were on it.

Furthermore, the Second Amendment is a fundamental right within the American Bill of Rights. It is a right that should not be curtailed without due process.

The Republicans in Congress proposed a reasonable restriction that managed to get 55 votes in the Senate.

Under Republican legislation sponsored by Senator John Cornyn, the federal government may delay the sale of a firearm to someone on the watch list for up to 72 hours. During that time, if the government can show a judge there’s “probable cause”–the same legal standard used to obtain a search warrant–that the individual is plotting terrorism, then the gun sale is denied outright.

Senators Rubio, Lee, and Cruz all supported it as did liberal Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.

But Democrats wanted to allow the government to flat out ban anyone on the terror list from getting a gun without due process and would require the individual purchaser to prove innocence instead of being given the presumption of innocence.

Frankly, had the Obama Administration not shown repeatedly in the past eight years how willing it is to flout the constitution and use the government to attack political opponents, no one would be concerned. But as it now stands, one would hardly be surprised to find Lois Lerner suddenly in charge of the terror watch list. That makes this a terrible idea.

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Erick Erickson

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