“With Liberty and Justice For All…”
by Charles C.W. Cooke
Thursday, August 25, 2016
This feature appears in the September ‘16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution says “no person shall … be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.”
About half of our U.S. senators and congressmen don’t care anymore.
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine, if you will, that the United States were to abandon all of the sacred principles that its people once considered inviolable. Imagine that, instead of being bound by laws, judges and juries, the government was free to punish you based on nothing more than its own suspicions. Imagine that, instead of following the rules that are clearly laid out in the Constitution, agents of the state could merely write your name on a list and declare your rights forfeit. Imagine that, for daring to oppose this arrangement, you were publicly accused of siding with terrorists. And, finally, imagine that the president of the United States, the attorney general, the director of Homeland Security and almost half of all federal legislators were happy to acquiesce to the plan.
Now, open your eyes and prepare yourself for a nasty shock: If Washington, D.C., is left to its own devices, this is exactly what is going to happen.
I am referring, of course, to a plan that is informally known as “No Fly, No Buy,” the purpose of which is to expand the federal government’s already questionable use of suspect databases and to take away the protection of the Second Amendment from anyone whose name is on the “terror watch list.” Since the terror attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., and Orlando, Fla., the effort to pass this idea into law has been a veritable obsession in some quarters of the gun control movement—an obsession that, if permitted to prevail, could lead not only to an unacceptable limitation on the right to keep and bear arms, but to the unraveling of the whole American order.
Advocates of the “No Fly, No Buy” proposal argue that anybody who the FBI suspects of terrorism is, by definition, “too dangerous” to buy a gun. Indeed, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., a key champion of the measure, has gone one further, contending before the Senate that “there is no excuse for allowing suspected terrorists to buy guns.” President [Barack] Obama has asked rhetorically, “What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon?”
If one doesn’t stop to think about it, this inquiry sounds reasonable. Who, after all, wants terrorists to arm up? But the devil, as usual, is hidden in the details, and to look more closely is to swiftly discover that Reid and Obama are not talking about people who have been convicted of a crime, or even about people who have been arrested, charged or served a warrant. They are talking about people who are merely “suspected”—that is, people whose names have been entered into a database. Is that how justice works in America now?