Why the GOP is right about the ‘watch list’ and the Second Amendment

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At first blush, it sounds totally nuts: Why should someone on a suspected-terrorist watch list be able to walk into a gun shop, go through a background check and walk out 20 minutes later equipped with an assault weapon, high-capacity magazines and thousands of rounds of ammunition, ready to inflict the kind of carnage that we saw in Orlando? Given what’s going on in the world, why do we act as if we’re helpless to prevent such a thing?

Sensing political opportunity, Senate Democrats intend to press that argument hard in floor debate later today. The problem is that on this one, they’re wrong.

They’re wrong because the courts have held that individuals have a constitutional right to possess firearms for self-protection. And as Republicans accurately point out, in this country, you can’t strip someone of a constitutional right by simply placing him or her on some bureaucratic watch list. You have to show good cause for that decision; you have to give the person in question the right to challenge the stripping of their constitutional right in the courts, and the burden of proof in such cases would be overwhelmingly on the government, not the citizen.

Furthermore, someone who is merely on a “watch list” is by definition someone who has done nothing that would allow authorities to arrest that person and charge him or her with a crime, and thus nothing that could justify stripping them of their rights. They are on that list because someone somewhere fears what they MIGHT do someday, and what someone MIGHT do someday cannot be grounds for denying their rights today. It is impossible to write a law that addresses that fundamental problem while still denying “watch list” suspects their right to bear arms.

On other proposed legislation, however, Republicans are on much weaker ground. For example, there is no constitutional or common-sense argument against a proposed amendment requiring background checks before the private sale of weapons through the Internet or at gun shows. Licensed gun dealers have had to use the National Instant Check System for decades now, and allowing private sellers to evade such checks simply encourages a dangerous, untraceable black market in firearms. It’s a stupid loophole that could easily be closed if not for the NRA’s automatic, absolutist rejection of any form of regulation as a dire threat to the Second Amendment.

And while a ban on the sale of assault weapons such as that used to kill or wound more than 100 people in Orlando is not among the amendments up for consideration before the Senate today, it ought to be. There is no legitimate reason for such weapons to be manufactured or sold in this country.

We’ve all heard the gun lobby’s response to such statements, including its rejection of the label “assault weapons.” Fine. “Weapons of mass murder” would do just as well, because that’s what they are designed to be. They are not hunting weapons, and they are rarely if ever used in home or personal defense, in large part because other weapons are better suited for such purposes. They are military in design and function, even in their semi-automatic mode, and the military aspect of such weapons is precisely why they are so appealing to certain buyers.

In fact, gun extremists argue that the military aspect of “weapons of mass murder” is precisely why they must remain legal, so that angry citizens have the firepower needed to engage in armed rebellion against the government. No federal court has ever come close to validating that ridiculous theory, and no responsible political party would do so either.

The NRA and its supporters argue that an assault weapons ban would be unconstitutional because the Second Amendment prohibits bans against an entire class of weapons. That too is nonsense. For more than 80 years, federal law has severely restricted the purchase and possession of fully automatic weapons, and since 1939 the NRA and other groups have never mounted a major legal challenge to that law.  There is no reason that semi-automatic “weapons of mass murder” with high-capacity magazines could not be banned as well under that theory.

In Heller v. D.C., the landmark 2008 Supreme Court decision on guns, Justice Antonin Scalia explicitly stated that the Second Amendment applies only to some forms of weapons but not to others. In addition, seven states and a number of localities have long-standing bans against the sale of assault weapons, and every attempt by the gun lobby to overturn those laws on constitutional grounds has been rejected.

The most recent example came just this morning, when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to even hear a challenge to Connecticut’s assault-weapons ban, passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting.

Its vote was unanimous.

Reader Comments 0

1446 comments
skruorangeclown
skruorangeclown

Jay is correct based on major  SCOTUS decision this week that limits second amendment rights under the constitution to those weapons necessary for self protection that will not harm the masses ie assault weapons.I suggest that the gun lovers read the Second Circuit opinion which was upheld by SCOTUS.


.As of this week there is no constitutional right to buy and own an assault weapon like ones used in recent mass shootings because the Supreme Court upheld a Second circuit decision that says NY and Conn. can ban assault weapons like an AR-15  due to the safety of the public overriding any individual rights to own such weapons for self protection.Thus now that the representative of the GOP and NRA on the Court is dead, the preamble of the second amendment is back in effect which refers to the "security of the states". Thank you cons for a balanced court.




Brandon Brooks
Brandon Brooks

You list Heller as reason why guns are a constitutional right. The Heller decision also claimed protection of modern weapons in common use. Magazine fed semiautomatic weapons are pretty common. It's hard to get more common than the most popular rifle in America. If supreme court rulings are the stick we're measuring from, US vs Miller said "The Court cannot take judicial notice that a shotgun having a barrel less than 18 inches long has today any reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, and therefore cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees to the citizen the right to keep and bear such a weapon." While at the time short barreled shotguns were not in common use by the military, they are now. Moreover, the decision implies that only weapons of use to the militia(as in the military) are protected by the 2a. Jumping back to the not used by any military in the world AR15, right here in GA it's common to hunt feral pigs with semiautomatic rifles, and night vision. Taking down these animals is so important that there is no limit, or season rules for it. Clearly there is some hunting use to the AR15. Finally, the very muskets used to liberate this country were banned from ownership in the colonies. Banned by the official government of the day. The AR15 and other semiautomatic rifles are the modern musket.

John Fair
John Fair

Jay Bookman came Sooo close to being coherent and then,poof, it vanished... he is Dead on, on the watch list issue, but digresses incoherently... so close buddy, so close

Kim Karr
Kim Karr

Then how can they deny an ex prisoner a gun once hes served his time or someone under age etc

St Simons he-ne-ha
St Simons he-ne-ha

holy tomahawk batman, it's down to Castro, Warren or Kaine


goooo Pocahontas' Foot 


FIGMO2
FIGMO2

I was right when predicting that Joe Biden would be Obama's VP pick. I'm now ready to predict that Tim Kaine will be Hillary's choice.

He's safe. He can, at the very least, posture as tough on Wall Street without poo pooin' it.

Kashin' in on Kaine! 

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@FIGMO2 

And he's male, which may be a point towards picking up those undecided who have just a bit of trouble voting for a woman.

elgrunir
elgrunir

REDNECK NICK, VOL 8

Nick drives a beaten-up dually

Stare, and he looks at you coolly

If you want to risk

Much more than a frisk

Don’t you dare even call him a “stoolie”

elgrunir
elgrunir

REDNECK NICK, VOL 7

Just what will Trump do for our Nick

Resident worker of mortar and brick?

A kick in the nutz

Then call him a puhts

And send him the bill--what a prik

elgrunir
elgrunir

Redneck Nick's back in da house.  Wonder what Trump has for the Rednecks?  Stay tuned...

elgrunir
elgrunir

AUTHOR, AUTHOR!!!

Trump’s books do come to ‘bout seven

Only for him they bring manna from heaven

He kills the suspense

And it don’t make no sense

‘Cause they all end at Chapter 11

gotalife
gotalife

Wow. That was great.Stepped up her game.

gotalife
gotalife

Talking about trump welching on his debts.

gotalife
gotalife

trump university fraud.


Defining her opponent.


American politics 101.


You just got schooled.

gotalife
gotalife

He has written a lot of books about his business but all seem to end at Chapter 11.


Talking about all his bankruptcies.

elgrunir
elgrunir

C’MON, DON… PRETTY PLEASE?

Trump won’t release his tax forms

Though transparency is ‘mong the norms

Let Americans parse

What comes out of his arse

And set up some mid-summer storms

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

The Obama administration on Tuesday announced new tactics to push young adults without heath insurance and other remaining uninsured people to sign up in Obamacare plans starting this fall.

Those tactics are specifically designed to improve the financial strength of insurance plans being sold in the Obamacare marketplaces, while at the same time increasing health coverage of younger adults, who have continued to have higher uninsured rates than other age groups despite an overall reduction in the nation's uninsured rate.

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/21/new-push-to-enroll-young-adults-and-other-uninsured-in-obamacare-health-plans.html

LISTEN UP young people! You need to pay up or die....or go to prison....or.....?????

Never mind! Obama will figure out what to do TO YOU at a later date. In the meantime....  

elgrunir
elgrunir

@FIGMO2  Yeah... that mean ol' Obama... tryin' to keep people healthy... gee, without Obama's nudging, I'll bet all those hard-working young people would go sign up--as eagerly as they sign up for everything else in life.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@elgrunir @FIGMO2

Obama underestimates human nature. Most Americans don't like to be pushed or prodded into submission.

honested
honested

@FIGMO2 @elgrunir 

Just let them visit a hospital for a minor emergency, then spend the next 10 years paying it off.

St Simons he-ne-ha
St Simons he-ne-ha

no tax returns

begging for 100k

Merrick Garland treason

Tom Cotton (R-banjo) treason

83 judges refused to confirm

4 gun control amendments

watered down mental health bill

my stupid neighbor praying for Obama's death

a canceled reality teevee clown as their official nominee


in another time and space, these cats would be arrested & frog marched by order of the CiC.


Again, if the Dems screw this buttwhoopin up, we're suing for malpractice

gotalife
gotalife

This speech proves how Hillary moved left but some refuse to listen or read.

James Kello
James Kello

First half of the article was spot on. The rest was what you'd expect out of Bookman.

gotalife
gotalife

Does Hillary support the cra and does not want to end it like trump?

RantNRave
RantNRave

Hillary is killing the Chump !


May he rest in PIECES !



Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

Go ahead, gotalife, explain to us how the Democratic Party is 'moving left' under its most right wing presidential candidate ever?

How's that going to happen?

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

@gotalife @Donnie_Pinko 

So you're resorting to the Mary Elizabeth line now: just listen to the nuance. 

Well, I have listened and what I hear confirms what I know: Hillary Clinton is the most right wing, warmongering Democratic nominee I can remember.

gotalife
gotalife

Going after his ignorant immigration policy.


Defining trump very well.

gotalife
gotalife

He won't release his tax returns.

elgrunir
elgrunir

@gotalife  But he's such a brilliant businessman... why wouldn't he want to share such knowledge?

gotalife
gotalife

Gong after his tax cuts for the wealthy.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@gotalife Are you referring to the Obama tax cuts for the wealthy?  His signature is on them, you know?

Kamchak
Kamchak

@DownInAlbany 

 Are you referring to the Obama tax cuts for the wealthy?

Obama cut taxes on the wealthy?

Well that's a deal breaker for me.

I will never vote for Obama.

Make book on it!