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March 08, 2005

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» Terror Watch Lists and Gun purchases from Josh's Weblog
The New York Times is New York Times, Eric Lichtblau, 3/8/2005">scooping Lautenberg's newest anti-gun initiatives, this time to encourage keeping lists of gun buyers: New York Times, Eric Lichtblau, 3/8/2005">Dozens of terror suspects on federal watch ... [Read More]

Comments

byrd

Other than the obvious slippery slope argument, I think this one would be pretty tough to object to.

Cecil Turner

Seems to me the original purpose of the data was to allow the Brady Bill's instant background check for gun buyers. At the time, the NRA complained the FBI intended to keep a database of all gun owners (as a sort of poor-man's registration system).

It appears from the current debate that the FBI is in fact keeping a database (and the NRA's fears were well-founded), but are complaining they are "hamstrung" by "privacy concerns." It's not clear to me what use the data is in any event, since it's obviously not important enough to do anything about (e.g., block sales).

Tollhouse

So now it's acceptable to deny Constitutionally protected rights from people "suspected" of having terror ties. They haven't been charged, they haven't been arrested, merely being on those watchlists. Like Cat Stevens.

Oh wait, that's right, the NYTs doesn't recognize such a right.

But let us be reasonable, what provisions of due process allow one to remove himself from such a watch list? Right...

Sounds like a crock that will come back to bite us twice as hard in the future.

Tom Bowler

I'm with Tollhouse and the NRA on this one. Terrorists aren't interested in "one at a time" terror, unless they're decapitating somebody. They want to rack up big numbers - like with a bomb. This bill is not about protectng anybody from terrorists. It's about finding another excuse to enact legislation that's been years on the wish list.

ed

Hmmm.

This proposed law is just frankly unnecessary.

The only reason why anyone would care if someone is purchasing a firearm, someone on a secret federal watchlist, is in the expectation that person is planning a terrorist attack.

The law, as proposed, does little more than require the retention of purchase data for 10 years, which is frankly ludicrous. Nobody wants to wait 10 years to do something about a terrorist, and I frankly don't believe a terrorist is going to buy a semi-automatic to conduct a terrorist attack a decade down the line.

The key is simply to provide the state authorities, who are responsible for state firearms sales, and the BATF to compare purchases with the federal watch list. If there's a connection, then proper procedures could be followed.

Frankly this is just a plain bad idea. The primary reason being that holding this information for 10 years doesn't accomplish much and any adult, properly licensed if necessary, can buy a firearm. So it's an effective tactic to have someone else, i.e. clean, to purchase the firearm for you if you think you're on the watch list.

IMHO this proposed law is self-defeating.

John Anderson

What is happening to "Innocent until proven..." here?

And is it news that potential criminals buy weapons? Now, if Islamic Jihad were to turn over all its weapons and swear off using any non-verbal violence, THAT would be NEWS!

Doug

This makes almost no sense.

The study found that people on the terrorist watch list are allowed to buy guns but Federal law does not allow them to be automatically excluded from buying. Lautenberg proposed law doesn't address this.

The article says that DOJ allows matching of gun applications with the terrorist list. "...if there is a match, bureau field agents or other counterterrorism personnel are to be contacted to determine whether they have any information about the terror suspect. In some cases, the extra review allowed the F.B.I. to block a gun purchase by a suspected terrorist that might otherwise have proceeded..." NYT cites two cases where the suspect was "was deemed "mentally defective,"." The other was someone who entered the country illegally but must have gotten a US driver's license or some official ID (can't make that too hard) in order to apply in the first place.

Lautenberg's proposal appears only add that if they find a match, then the records need to be kept for 10 years. Of course :-) without this new law, the law enforcement personel will always forget all about being notified that a terrorist suspect has bought a gun. I guess they don't write it down in their files.

What does this add to safety?

I have gone through the gun buying check, the info is driver's license number, address, Social Security number, date of birth and a few other things like that. The article goes on to say "...the report concluded that the Justice Department should clarify what information could and could not be shared between gun-buying administrators and terrorism investigators."

Is this what Lautenberg is after? Making sure that the investigators can get all of the information from an application before the information is destroyed. Why not just say (either by the DOJ clarification or new law) what information can be shared? Let the investigators keep the information in their file for the investigation.

ed

Hmmm.

Frankly I think the most effective change would be entirely procedural and wouldn't require a new or changed law. All the FBI would have to do is run a daily check of the firearms applicants against the watch list. Then again it is the FBI that just flushed $170 million down the rathole by designing an idiot computer system.

I've worked professionally as a software developer for about 26 years now, and I can't say I've ever seen $170 million in in bad software development. That's quite an achievement.

And these are the bozos that we're depending on?

They don't need new laws. They need a swift kick in the ass.

TJ Jackson

Let me understand this, our security bodies allow terrorists to enter legally and illegally and we should be worried about them legally purchasing firearms? How about stopping them before they enter the country folks?

Larry Jones

Democrats want to deny 2nd Amendment rights to people who haven't been convicted of (or charged with) anything, yet at the same time they want to give felons the right to vote. Sounds about right.

Harry Arthur

Am I missing something or wouldn't a bonafide terrorist just buy illegal guns on the black gun market without attempting to register them?

But let's be sure we issue driver's licenses to illegal "visitors", provide their children with state subsidized college educations and free medical care. TJ has it right. This is just another attempt at gun restrictions attempting to sneak under the radar.

Personally, I'd say the best way to reduce the terrorist threat is to REQUIRE gun ownership and to isuue "carry" permits to as many people as possible. That would certainly make a wanna-be terrorist think twice about a number of courses of action. Think of the possibilities if just a few teachers had been armed at Columbine.

Greg D

"People suspected of being members of a terrorist group are not automatically barred from legally buying a gun"

Allow me to chime in with the other people who don't believe that being "suspected of being" a terrorist should immediately cost you your rights.

Giving that kind of power to any government is insane.

TM

Let's get TigerHawk in the mix - his point is that the NY Times (in an editorial) is quite willing to trample the civil rights of terror "suspects". Where is due process?

Caveat - I have barely read his post, and can only imagine the editorial, but here in the comments, we operate on a Ready, Shoot, Aim basis.

Cecil Turner

"I have barely read his post, and can only imagine the editorial, but here in the comments, we operate on a Ready, Shoot, Aim basis."

Don't bother with the editorial, it's exactly what one would expect (assuming a less-than-charitable predisposition--which I'd freely admit):

The alarming ease with which terror suspects can buy high-powered weapons on Main Street was disclosed by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. This is an irony in itself since the Republican-controlled Congress declined last year to renew the 10-year-old assault rifle ban, which had helped keep battlefield weapons out of the hands of mayhem-minded citizens.
The true irony is that the Times's editorial staff, champions of the First Amendment, can't be bothered to read the Second. Or that they hold forth on the subject without appearing to realize one of the few settled questions on its meaning is that it only applies to "battlefield weapons":
Therefore, ''[i]n the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a 'shotgun having a barrel of less than 18 inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well- regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument.

richard mcenroe

How many terrorist attacks have been committed with weapons bought over the counter?

Forbes

The NYTimes stakes out some incredibly odd positions:

Journalists in possession of material information regarding the commission of a crime having national security implications do not have to provide such evidence to a secret grand jury--thereby granting a special status to certain citizens, even though the first amendment is about individual rights endowed on all citizens.

Yet, someone connected--by blood or affiliation--to a suspected (or actual) criminal (terrorist) should have the right to due process protection against government meddling with those individual rights eliminated.

Where is the check on government power? In the case of the NYTimes, they beliene they are above, or beyond the reach of, the law. In the case of someone upon which the government has suspicions, well, tough luck, you're not entitled to basic presumption of innocence--you're guilty by association!

Governments should never be granted this sort of discretion over individual rights. I never realized Lautenberg was this much of an embarassment.

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