Monday night’s presidential debate saw both candidates making repeated references to policies that have worked, are working or will work. Clinton made eight such comments; Trump made four. But gun rights advocates, or perhaps everyone who has affection for civil rights, should be concerned about the point on which both candidates enthusiastically agree—prohibiting firearm sales to people on the federal no-fly list.
The List has been plagued with high-profile issues since its inception. Duly elected officials have been prevented from boarding planes due to clerical errors. An acquaintance who’s a retired police chief, now working in the federal arena, was once denied on a flight based on the list. A woman who was wrongly placed on the list spent eight years being removed from it.
Does the no-fly list “work?” If new domestic hijack attacks are any indication, yes, it’s working, despite the bugs and inconveniences to would-be travelers. Peace-loving people the world over have made concessions in things like air travel in the name of preventing terror.
At the same time, spilling over suspicion-based restrictions to create a firearms no-buy list is a travesty to residents of a nation whose seminal documents guarantee due process and acknowledge the right to keep and bear arms.
The 101,460 names on the no fly list are published, along with personal data about each individual. Some of the data, according to a 2014 report in The Intercept, is obtained through international hacking.
If non-partisanship is to be admired, the List would be its crowning glory. Approved for establishment under George W. Bush, it’s grown larger in the Obama administration. And it received approving, almost affectionate nods from both grandparents on stage Monday night.
There’s a big difference, of course, in being suspected of criminal activity as compared to having been convicted of the same. Recent history has shown that criminal background checks are limited at best in their usefulness in keeping guns out of the hands of those planning mass murder—on their own, they don’t work. And, as if no one’s noticed, mass killing is often committed by means other than firearms. Where’s the no-fertilizer-sales list?
That the NRA and both presidential candidates stand behind a plan that represents a gross overreach of government, cloaked in the widely accepted guise of terrorism prevention, is disturbing.
Self-governance isn’t simple. Being alive is an inherently unsafe condition. I don’t want to seem unappreciative of the skill and labor that produced the ever-growing no-fly list and its apparent success in preventing new attacks. However, to even propose applying it to gun sales is a sign that something is very much amiss in our leaders’ priorities and the NRA’s alliances. It’s a matter that should concern everyone, not just gun owners. Yesterday, now, or later, every one of us will likely do something Big Brother could label as suspicious.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.