Government lists shouldn't bar gun purchases

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

One of President Joe Biden’s statements regarding guns during the State of the Union involved barring terrorists from buying guns. On the surface, this sounds fine. No one wants terrorists buying guns, which would then be used to hurt innocent people.

Luckily, people convicted of terrorism–you know, people prevent to be terrorists–can’t. They’re convicted felons and it’s illegal for them to possess firearms.

No, Biden was talking about things like “no-fly, no buy” which prevents people on secret government lists to purchase firearms.

Over at National Review, David Harsanyi disagrees.

In his State of the Union address yesterday, President Joe Biden wondered why American citizens who are placed on secret government lists by bureaucrats aren’t being denied their constitutional rights:

I ask Congress to pass proven measures to reduce gun violence. Pass universal background checks. Why should anyone on the terrorist list be able to purchase a weapon? Why? Why?

Well, I suppose we can start with the Second and Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution. The terror watch list (last estimated to have almost 2 million names on it) and no-fly list (tens of thousands) are tools used by law enforcement to monitor potential threats, not to adjudicate guilt or innocence. The last time Senate Democrats tried to pass a bill weaponizing this monitoring tool, they proposed banning not only those currently on lists from owning guns, but anyone whose name was on a list in the “preceding five years.”

A 2014 leak found that nearly 40 percent of the names on the terror watch list weren’t even tangentially associated with any recognized terrorist organization, and no effort was made to explain why. Those people have no real way to challenge the designation, and the government isn’t required to tell them they’re on list, anyway. Civil-rights hero John Lewis, by the way, was once on the no-fly list. According to the late congressman, he was stopped 35 to 40 times at the airport in a single year. If it’s difficult for a well-known elected official to clear his name, imagine what an average person will go through.

Let’s put it another way: Imagine a president arguing that Americans should lose their right to vote simply because some cops put their names on a secret government document.


We simply don’t know how names are added to the list and we can’t seem to get names off the list. Then there are names that are on the list and probably should be, but are shared by others who have done nothing wrong and bear no relation to the potential terrorist.

Why should we infringe on the rights of people simply because they share the same name? I mean, John Lewis isn’t exactly an uncommon name, right?

And that’s just part of the issue. As Harsanyi notes, it’s not exactly easy for an innocent person to get their name off such a list and the government doesn’t have to tell you how you ended up on it in the first place.

Considering how often gun rights advocates have been called “domestic terrorists” by left-leaning politicians, it’s not exactly surprising any of us would be concerned by such a statement. After all, is Cam on such a list? Am I? Are you?

More terrifyingly, if you’re not now, will that be true tomorrow?

One of the big problems with such a proposal is that it is based on the supposition that the government is always trustworthy and moral, which is a ridiculous notion. Worse yet, Democrats should know better. It was just a couple of years ago that they were going nuts over everything President Donald Trump said and labeled him every evil they could think of.

Would they really want another Donald Trump to be able to decide who can exercise a fundamental right and who can’t?

If not, then why should we trust Joe Biden to do better?