The political response to the tragic Pulse shooting in Orlando, Florida has been like 9/11 all over again. Like after 9/11, the limiting of constitutional rights is presented as the only solution to keeping America safe. At the time, legislation like the USA PATRIOT Act was presented and pushed aggressively on Congress using fear tactics. The same is occurring now in regards to an attack on constitutional due process under the guise of supporting gun control.
A number of proposals with varying strengths have been presented, all with the same general idea. The federal government maintains a number of watchlists that keep track of individuals suspected of being terrorists or having terrorist ties. Though these individuals generally have not been tried in a court of law, they are treated as guilty in the eyes of the law. Now various politicians want to take this watchlist and use it to limit the constitutional rights of American citizens.
Republican United States Senator Susan Collins is joining forces with Democrats to push this attack on due process, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is on her side.
Senator Collins’ legislation is being sold as a compromise, which aims to bring opposing sides together to support a piece of legislation. The proposal would restrict gun sales to anyone appearing on any of two different government watchlists, one of which is the “no fly” list. American citizens who have their rights rejected by the legislation would have the right to appeal to have their rights restored, but essentially they would be guilty until they can prove their innocence because a government bureaucrat suspected them of bad things.
The legislation would also require that the Federal Bureau of Investigation be notified if anyone appearing on these lists purchases a gun.
Just to recap, the watchlists will require your name be submitted and rights be rejected as though you’re a criminal, without a judge or jury actually declaring you one.
Naturally, Harry Reid would support Senator Collins on this heavy-handed attack on the Bill of Rights. Senate Republicans had been leaning towards legislation that would’ve required the FBI to get a court order to stop a gun sale to someone suspected of a crime. Senator Collins, like Senator Reid and their Democratic allies, don’t agree with that.
Senator Reid’s backing reflects growing support among Democrats, which also includes Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin. The idea that the “no-fly” list should block American citizens not convicted of a crime from purchasing a gun is popular among Democrats. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein has also taken the position that anyone suspected of a crime and placed on the list should have to appeal the status, but only after the fact.
From a historical perspective, watchlists have been used to block political opponents and watch them. Martin Luther King Jr., who had applied for a concealed carry permit and was denied, was also on an FBI watchlist. He was closely monitored because the FBI suspected him of being a communist, but was not convicted of any crime.
Does Senator Collins believe that Martin Luther King Jr., a suspected communist, should not have been allowed to carry a gun for self-defense? Does Senator Collins believe Americans suspected of a crime should be considered guilty until proven innocent? Her position on the issue of due process is in lockstep with prominent Senate Democrats Harry Reid, Dianne Feinstein, and Dick Durbin.