Even in the best of circumstances, I’d have issues with the new legislation introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio, but his bill to supposedly stop domestic terrorists from buying a gun is even more problematic given the fact that large swathes of the Left are proclaiming that roughly half the country meets their definition of a suspected domestic terrorist.
On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co. we take a closer look at Rubio’s new bill and the dangers that it poses to our civil liberties, regardless of the intention behind the proposed legislation. The Florida Republican says in a press release that the new bill would, “help ensure criminals, terrorists, and others seeking to take innocent lives are not able to acquire firearms, while also protecting the due process and Second Amendment rights of innocent, law-abiding Americans.”
Is that really the case, however? Take a look at the summary of Rubio’s proposal taken from the senator’s own press release.
The Terror Intelligence Improvement Act would:
- Consolidate all federal terrorism investigation intelligence under the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), strengthening the FBI’s capabilities and making sure dangerous individuals do not fall through the cracks.
- Require the FBI Director and the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) be immediately notified of any request to transfer a firearm to an individual who was the subject of a federal terrorism investigation within the last 10 years.
- When an individual who was the subject of a federal terrorism investigation within the last 10 years tries to obtain a firearm, allow the U.S. Attorney General to delay the purchase or transfer for up to ten business days and file an emergency petition in court to prevent the transfer. If the court finds probable cause that the individual is or has been engaged in terrorism, the Attorney General may arrest the individual.
- Protect the due process rights of law-abiding Americans by ensuring emergency petitions filed by the Attorney General are only granted if the transferee receives notice of the hearing and has the opportunity to participate with legal counsel. If the court denies the Attorney General’s petition, the federal government is responsible for all reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees.
- Require the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (IC IG) to conduct an audit of the federal government’s terrorism screening and watch list procedures, and identify any problems in the processes of adding or removing individuals from the system. Based on the audit, the IC IG must then submit a report to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees with recommendations for improving the system.
The civil liberties concerns should be clear here. The bill basically requires the establishment of a database that will include subject of any domestic terror investigation dating back ten years. Even if a subject has been cleared during the course of that investigation, any attempt to purchase a firearm is seen as a red flag that empowers the Attorney General to block their gun purchase and haul them into court to explain themselves.
Once in court, a judge can use the standard of probable cause to justify the arrest of an individual on terrorism charges, depriving them of more than just their Second Amendment rights.
While I appreciate the safeguards that Rubio has put in place, including costs and attorneys fees when a petition is denied by a judge, the fact remains that this would be open to all kinds of abuse, especially in today’s political environment.
It’s not hyperbole to say that many on the Left believe that there are tens of millions of potential terrorists lurking in our midst, and that something as simple as a III-percent logo should be enough to brand someone a domestic extremist. Case in point; this exhaustive “investigation” into the online activities of actor Chris Pratt’s brother Daniel, who works with the Solano County Sheriff’s Office.
Over the years, Chris Pratt has supported his brother, Daniel “Cully” Pratt, in his efforts to promote the Solano County Sheriff’s Office, charitable groups and a side business making and selling decorative wood carvings.
But did the “Jurassic Park” star pay close attention to the way that Cully Pratt, the department’s former public information officer, used his personal social media platform and wood-carving business to seemingly promote the right-wing group, the Three Percenters?
According to an investigation by the independent news website Open Vallejo, Cully Pratt for years has promoted extremist imagery connected to the right-wing group on social media and in his wood carving.
The Three Percenters are a loose-knit coalition that, with the Oath Keepers, are part of the antigovernment militia movement whose followers express anti-government views and a willingness to defy the federal government, according to the Southern Poverty Law Project. At least one person with ties to the Three Percenters was charged in the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol, where five people died, including one police officer. Other people with ties to the Three Percenters have been connected to bombings and kidnapping plots.
The “investigation” by the Daily Democrat goes on to suggest that Chris Pratt himself might be an anti-government extremist because he’s rumored to be politically conservative and was once photographed wearing a shirt with the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me” emblazoned on the chest.
Again, even in ordinary times the potential abuse of civil liberties that could take place under Rubio’s proposal would be enough for me to oppose this bill, no matter how well-intended it may be. In our current political environment, however, there’s not a doubt in my mind that the abuses would be widespread and commonplace, and would invariably ensnare Americans who may be angry at the government but have no plans or desire to wage war on it.
If authorities have enough evidence to make an arrest for someone they believe is plotting or planning an act of violence, fine. Attempting to purchase a firearm, however, shouldn’t be seen as reason enough to try to haul someone into court and arrest them, especially if someone’s been investigated and cleared in the past.
Rubio’s bill reminds me of the “No Fly, No Buy” bills that would bar those on the No Fly list from purchasing a firearm, as well as “red flag” laws that can strip individuals of their Second Amendment rights without ever being accused of a crime. In each of those circumstances, the individual liberties of American citizens are sublimated to the supposed needs of the State, with little to no recourse if the State abuses its power and authority.
Given the past abuses of domestic surveillance programs by institutions like the FBI and the current suspicion on the Left of anyone even slightly to their right, Americans should be skeptical and concerned about how Rubio’s plan would play out in the real world. The “cure” can’t be worse than the disease, and eroding the civil liberties of American citizens with the empty promise of safety and security would take us down a dark and dystopian road we should avoid at all costs.