In the aftermath of the Orlando shootings… shootings which were carried out by a known Islamic extremist… the Democrats have managed to successfully change the narrative from “what do we do to eliminate radical Islam in the United States,” which would be an actual step forward, to “how do we make it harder for law abiding Americans to own firearms.” As it never fails to happen, otherwise sensible Republicans get rubber-kneed and watery-boweled at the thought of confronting the Democrats over the idea of civil rights when it comes to firearms.
To review the bidding, the only way Omar Mateen was going to be prevented from shooting up that Orlando night club under the inspiration of ISIS was a) if his father had been banned from coming to the United States or b) if the FBI had actually done its job and arrested Mateen on one of the at least two occasions in which he was questioned about his links to terrorism.
But we have to do SOMETHING, right?
To that end House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy unveiled an “anti-terrorism” bill. In the main, it was simply pap. Corrosive pap, but pap nonetheless. It has three parts. First, it allegedly takes steps to stop the radicalization of Muslims living in the United State. This measure simply opens more government positions and influence to CAIR and other Muslim Brotherhood groups by creating an “Office for Partnerships to Prevent Terrorism”. I swear to you, I am not making that up. This creates an additional bureaucracy and if you think this will not become a CAIR directed office focused on stamping out “Islamophobia” you are nuts. (Let me digress here for a second. Fear is a good thing. Fear is not a disease. Fear is what keeps you from walking down alleys in bad neighborhoods at night. If, after Fort Hood, and Chattanooga, and the ambush killings of NYPD officers, and San Bernardino and Orlando, you are not afraid of radical Islam you really need to see a shrink.) It also establishes a federal revenue stream directed precisely to the people who are producing terrorists:
ESTABLISHMENT.—The Assistant Secretary for Partnerships to Prevent Terrorism, in coordination with the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the Department, shall establish a grant program for eligible community groups and organizations to assist such groups and organizations in establishing counter-messaging campaigns targeting radical Islamist terrorism.
Another provision allows the revocation of the passports of anyone with “terrorist ties.” This is more bullsh**. How does this do anything to prevent terrorism? If we’d decided to buy people with terrorist ties plane ticket, that would make sense.
The last part basically gave the Democrats what they wanted in allowing faceless federal bureaucrats to prevent anyone from buying a firearm on a whim. The Democrats had been pushing… or sitting… a demand that would make it illegal for anyone on a terror watchlist to buy a weapon. Never mind that these lists are huge, flawed, and there is no way to appeal being included.
After a House committee rejected the Democrats’ preferred solution, McCarthy and Ryan attempted to make a back door run at the same policy. Let me let Representative Justin Amash explain:
Terrorists already can be arrested, charged, tried, and convicted under current law—and denied gun rights. The real innovation of H.R. 5611 is to grant the government power to target law-abiding Americans.
The bill allows the government to prohibit gun transfers to Americans who have not been charged with—let alone convicted of—any criminal or terrorist activities. Under the bill’s constitutionally inadequate process, the targeted individual receives a basic hearing, not a jury trial, and the judge can restrict the individual’s gun rights upon nothing more than a showing of “probable cause to believe” that he or she will someday be a terrorist.
If successful this week, H.R. 5611 will be among the most egregious gun control measures ever to pass either house of Congress. If the bill becomes law, it will mark a massive expansion of the government’s ability to restrict gun rights on the basis of precrime—a crime not yet committed. H.R. 5611 is the actualization of dystopian fiction.
The Rule of Law requires notice that particular actions will result in penalties and restrictions of rights, but the bill enables a judge to penalize a constellation of legal activities that the judge believes can predict the individual’s future actions. Under this standard, there is no way to be sure that you’re preserving your Second Amendment-secured rights; you just have to live life in a way that hopefully a judge won’t someday find suspicious.
Even if the government alleges that the individual has committed illegal acts, H.R. 5611 may be used unconstitutionally to short-circuit due process. To restrict someone’s fundamental rights based on illegal conduct, due process requires that the individual be found guilty of the criminal act beyond a reasonable doubt. This bill requires the government only to show probable cause—a much lower burden of proof—to believe a claim that, at the time of the hearing, cannot be indisputably proven or disproven (that the individual “will” commit a future act of terrorism).
It’s not even clear how this future behavior would be litigated. What must the individual show to convince a judge that he or she will not commit an act of terrorism in the indefinite future? Will the hearing simply devolve into a dispute about the individual’s character? This would be hugely unsettling—the prosecutor and the judge would have to discuss whether the individual in front of them (perhaps a member of a religious or ethnic minority), who hasn’t actually been found guilty of anything, is nonetheless just so rotten that his or her capacity to make alternative choices should be ignored. Free societies do not permit judges and prosecutors to restrict your rights just because they don’t like you.
This is essentially a warmed over version of the terror watch list prohibition. If you think that any judge is going to rule in your favor if a law enforcement agency says you might commit an act of terrorism at some point in the future, you really need to get out more. It ain’t gonna happen because that judge is not going to take a chance that the government was right.
Anyway, Speaker Paul Ryan seems to be facing a widespread mutiny in his own caucus:
Already dealing with threats of another Democratic floor protest, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is now facing defections from the right on a GOP gun bill that conservatives complain is unconstitutional.
The handful of Republican naysayers has raised doubts about whether Ryan can muster enough votes from his own party to pass the gun provision. Backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the GOP legislation was favored by Republican leaders as a more acceptable alternative to Democratic gun-control bills.
But Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), an opponent of the GOP provision, said: “I think it’s dead.”
The gun provision was part of a larger GOP anti-terrorism package that was set to hit the floor on Wednesday. But that vote was postponed to allow GOP lawmakers, returning from the week-long July Fourth recess, more time to study and discuss the package, said Rules Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas).
“Enough members don’t have enough information,” Sessions told reporters as he left a GOP leadership meeting in the Speaker’s suite. “What we’re trying to do is work toward resolution where we’re all on the same page.”
That same page, apparently, is the willy-nilly trampling of constitutional rights under the most flimsy of pretenses.
Added Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), another Freedom Caucus member: “If it is a suspected terrorist and we have evidence to that extent, then Logic 101 [suggests] that person should either be in jail or out of the country.”
Other conservative lawmakers opposed to the GOP gun bill included Reps. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) and Raul Labrador (R-Idaho).
Huelskamp lamented that the only reason Ryan planned to bring up the NRA-backed bill was because he had felt pressure following Democrats’s daylong sit-in on the House floor demanding a vote on gun control legislation.
We aren’t out of the woods on this and we never will be until Paul Ryan starts caring more about the US Constitution and the rule of law that the optics of John Lewis’s fat ass spread out on the carpet in the House of Representatives.