Keeping his promise to attack the gun rights of law-abiding Americans in the wake of the Islamic terrorist attack that killed 14 people attending a Christmas party in San Bernardino last week, President Barack Obama is moving to ban 47,000 people whose name appears on the No-Fly List from buying guns, owning ammunition or even keeping their firearms.
The president’s opening gambit to redefine what a “prohibited person” is under the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) follows his Sunday address to the nation on domestic terrorism – a move that would not have stopped Islamic terrorists in California from committing their crimes.
If Obama uses an Executive Order to expand the “prohibited person” definition used by NICS to approve gun sales – a power he does not have under federal law – and is not stopped by Congress or the courts, people ranging from U.S. Marines and Congressmen to journalists and even federal air marshals could be stripped of their firearms. In his Sunday address, the president said:
“To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a No-Fly List is able to buy a gun.” “What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to but a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security.”
What the president doesn’t seem to understand is that the law is the law. The No-Fly List – which is secret, riddled with errors and makes it difficult to appeal the decision to add them to the list – was created to protect the flying public from terrorist attacks, not to strip people of their gun rights.
In fact, according to a piece on the No-Fly List published in The Washington Post:
“Thousands of people have been mistakenly linked to names on terror watch lists when they crossed the border, boarded commercial airliners or were stopped for traffic violations…”
“When questions arose about tens of thousands of names between December 2003 and January 2006, the names were sent back to the agencies that put them on the lists, the GAO said. Half of those were found to be misidentified…”
Security experts, civil libertarians and consumer critics charge that the federal list process contains many errors and relies on an overly broad standard of reasonable suspicion.
One famous example involved the late Senator Ted Kennedy, an ardent advocate of gun control in Congress, who was added to the No-Fly List in error. Under the standard Obama wants to implement, Sen. Kennedy would be barred from purchasing a firearm. At the time, Kennedy asked then-Homeland Security undersecretary Asa Hutchinson:
“If they have that kind of difficulty with a member of Congress, how in the world are average Americans – who are getting caught up in this thing – how are they going to be treated fairly and not have their rights abused?”
Another example occurred just last year when Fox News contributor Steve Hayes was listed in the federal terrorist database after he traveled to Istanbul for a cruise.
“When I went online to check in with Southwest, they wouldn’t let me. I figured it was some glitch,” he said. “Then I got to the airport and went to check in. The woman had a concerned look on her face.
She brought over her supervisor and a few other people. Then they shut down the lane I was in, took me to the side, told me I was a selectee and scrawled [something] on my ticket.”
Hayes was later informed by Southwest Airlines that his name appeared on the government’s terrorist watch list.
In what is perhaps one the most bizarre examples of No-Fly List errors involved members of the Federal Air Marshal Service. Air Marshalls said they were blocked from boarding planes in 2008 after their names appeared in the database. One marshal told the Washington Times that it was “a major problem, where guys are denied boarding by the airline.”
“In some cases, planes have departed without any coverage because the airline employees were adamant they would not fly,” said the air marshal, who requested anonymity due to the nature of his job. “I’ve seen guys actually being denied boarding.”
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., commenting after the president’s address told CNN on Sunday that most people on the No-Fly List don’t even belong there:
“These are everyday Americans that have nothing to do with terrorism. … The majority of people on the No-Fly List are often times people that just basically have the same name as somebody else who doesn’t belong on the No-Fly List.”
If President Obama gets his way, the government will be able to target individual Americans and take away their Second Amendment gun rights by adding their names to the No-Fly List. Once your name appears on the list, federal law enforcement could show up at your home and confiscate any firearms you may own.
While the president plan would only strip 47,000 people of their gun rights, it could just be the beginning. In time, soldiers retiring from active duty after deployment overseas, people being treated for stress or anxiety and other classes of people deemed ineligible to own firearms by politicians will follow – the Second Amendment be damned.