If Only Abdelhamid Abaaoud Had Been on a "No Fly List"

Even prior to the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud was one of the most wanted men in all of Europe. Abaaoud had, prior to the events that left over 130 Parisians dead on November the 13th, been involved in a lengthy string of attacks in Paris and had been involved in the deaths of police officers in Belgium. He was likewise suspected of involvement in terrorist activity throughout Southern Europe – in Greece, and elsewhere.

As a result, Abaaoud was on more European terror watch lists than you could shake a stick at. He was aggressively pursued by Interpol and in fact was so hated by the French (again, all prior to the Paris attacks of November 13th) that the French army carried out specific bombing operations in Syria that had as their sole purpose the attempted death of Abaaoud. So prior to the November 13th, Abdelhamid Abaaoud might have been a non-entity to most Americans, but he was close to as infamous with European counter-terrorism operatives as someone like Anwar al-Awlaki was to the United States.

I bring all this up because the latest dumb posturing from Democrats on the gun issue seeks to convince you that banning people on the no fly list from legally purchasing guns might actually prevent a terrorist attack, as opposed to merely prevent anyone who the Obama DHS wants to be unable to buy a gun from buying a gun.

It seems at least relevant to such a discussion that in spite of the fact that European counterterrorism authorities were on constant, daily high alert for Abaaoud, and in spite of the fact that he never (so far as we know) traveled to the United States (where, we are constantly told, it is the easiest thing in the world to get a gun, even if you are a terrorist), he was somehow able to place in the hands of the Paris attackers numerous fully automatic weapons, along with sophisticated explosive equipment.

What liberals would apparently have you believe is that if Abdelhamid Abaaoud had merely been on the United States “no fly list,” he presumably wouldn’t have been able to get any guns.

I’ll grant you that this is a slight caricature of their position, but only a very slight one – and it correctly illustrates the absurdity of their position. There are two types of people who are currently on the United States “no fly list” – 1) actual terrorists/terror threats, and 2) mistakes, whose existence and plight have been well covered in the media. In a well-publicized case, Weekly Standard writer and frequent FoxNews contributor Stephen F. Hayes was “mysteriously” placed on the list and could not get off of it until another reporter specifically asked about him during a press conference and made the situation politically embarrassing for the President.

With respect to the actual terrorists and terror threats who are on the list, taking those people and preventing them from buying a weapon legally in the United States won’t change squat. For one thing, ISIS does not pay retail at Bob’s Legal Gun Store in Poughskeepsie, New York. For another thing, even if they were so inclined to do so, it would be the simplest thing in the world for them to find someone who’s not on the list who would make the purchase for them. For instance, you know who was not on the list? Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik.

Third, and finally, the experience of Abdelhamid Abaaoud illustrates nicely the commonsense (and here I mean “commonsense” as the word is actually intended, and not as code for “Democrats like it”) principle that if a committed and trained terrorist won’t be deterred from breaking the laws which say that mass murder is illegal, they won’t be deterred by a law that says purchasing guns in the United States is illegal if you’re on the no fly list.

Even the very dimmest of Democrat must understand that the actual terrorists who are on the “No Fly List” are not buying guns in their own name legally in the United States right now. They cannot believe that the legislation they are now proposing will stop a single terror attack – surely even they are not that naive.

Far more likely they realize that the executive branch has sole control over who is on the “No Fly List” and who isn’t, and they like the idea of a pain free way for Obama to deny the purchase of guns to whoever he wants. In the meantime, they like the idea of a snap-judgment wedge issue based on people’s fears that have been stoked by recent news. Meanwhile, of course, shame on Republicans for demagoguing the Syrian refugee crisis the way they did.

I was always told that when you’re trying to determine whether someone is doing a given thing because they are stupid or because they are evil, it’s more charitable to assume that they are doing it because they are stupid. However, in this case, the stupidity is too implausible for even Sally Kohn to really believe it in her heart, so we are left with the only other option.