It seems simple enough: If the federal government, based on intelligence or policing, puts a person on its watch list of suspected terrorists or decrees that he or she is too dangerous to be allowed on an airplane, then surely it would also be foolish to let that person buy a firearm in the United States. Makes sense, doesn't it?
That was the thrust of a proposed law by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that her Senate colleagues rejected last week amid much political furor. The idea was resuscitated by President Obama in his Oval Office address Sunday evening. "What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semiautomatic weapon?" the president asked.
When he puts it that way, it does sound pretty stupid. But, in fact, there are several strong arguments against the proposal.
One problem is that the people on the no-fly list (as well as the broader terror watch list from which it is drawn) have not been convicted of doing anything wrong. They are merely suspected of having terror connections. And the United States doesn't generally punish or penalize people unless and until they have been charged and convicted of a crime. In this case, the government would be infringing on a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution — and yes, like it or not, the right to buy a gun is a constitutional right according to the U.S. Supreme Court. [emphasis added]The LA Times says that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms would be violated here. But, more than that Constitutional right would be taken away.
How about Fifth Amendment right to not "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"?
Or Sixth Amendment rights
1. to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed
2. to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation
3. to be confronted with the witnesses against him
4. to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor
5. to have the assistance of counsel for his defense
If a person can lose Constitutional rights just by being put on a Federal list, without a trial or proof given or ability to confront their accusers, many Constitutional rights have already been taken away. No need for Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. The government assumes evidence. No need for Fifth Amendment protection from forced self-incrimination. The government assumes incrimination . Obviously no need for trial by jury or any of the process of defense that goes with it. Placement on the list is all that is needed.
The New York Sun has a great tongue-in-cheek editorial on taking one, two or many Bill of Rights protections away.
Fie on the Eighth Amendment. Fie on the Ninth and Tenth. Fie on the whole idea of the Bill of Rights. What good is it if the government can stick a person on a Watch List without a trial and then suspend their rights? If the President wants to suspend the Second Amendment, the logic is to suspend them all.