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On the “terrorist watch list” thing

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I really wanted to cheerlead the symbolic gesture Chris Murphy and other Senate Democrats engaged in yesterday. It’s certainly good politics, as I have no doubt the bill they were filibustering on behalf of would be similarly overwhelmingly popular. But I can’t quite do it; I’m with the ACLU on this one. The “terrorist watch list” is a due process nightmare, and it shouldn’t be used to restrict legal rights in its current form. My interest in not seeing people deprived of their legal rights arbitrarily and without due process doesn’t suddenly vanish because the government defines a particular legal right overbroadly on my assessment. It’s also troubling to see people who really should know better, like Sheila Jackson Lee, conflating “terrorist” and “person on terror watch list.”

Incidently, I was apparently on some sort of list–obviously not the no-fly list, as I was never actually denied boarding, but some sort of extra scrutiny list–for several years in the early aughts. I couldn’t check into a flight online or at the kiosk, so I’d stroll up the agent to check in. The typical process of acquiring a boarding pass began with the ticketing agent taking my ID and flight information, clicking away at the terminal for a minute or two. There was a moment where his or her demeanor suddenly changed, and I’d get a nervous “I’m sorry, sir, there seems to be some sort of problem” followed by a huddle of multiple employees, including some sort of supervisor, just out of earshot, whispering anxiously and occasionally glancing suspiciously in my direction. This would go on for several minutes, until someone got on the phone, waited a while to get through to whoever they were calling, who’d eventually, apparently, give them permission to issue me a boarding pass. I spent a non-trivial amount of time and energy trying to figure out what list I was on, let alone how to get off it, with no success whatsoever. (After a few years of this, a gate agent recommended to me I start using my full middle name, rather than just my middle initial, when booking flights. It worked; I was never subjected to this step again.)

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  • celticdragonchick

    The bush administration had no problem putting political enemies on the no fly list, including academics and defense lawyers. I do not look forward to seeing what a Trump administration would do with abusing a no-fly list.

    • Troll

      Troll Troll Trolley Trolley!

      • GeoX

        Man, trolling doesn’t get much more feeble than that.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          management won’t need a shovel or mop to clean up, just a few paper towels

        • Warren Terra

          It’s Jennie, talking to itself (in the political violence post comments), and (which is most upsetting) nymjacking JfL to call Jennie out at a (probable) non-Jennie comment.

          eta: also now arguing with its own nymjack of JfL. Well, I guess if Jennie weren’t trolling LGM it’d be torturing kittens or something; glad we’re here to help.

          • wjts

            I’d rather see Jenny torture kittens. And Jenny, your “ethnic” pseudonyms still need some work. Maybe “Algebra ibn Falafel al-Quran”?

        • wengler

          I remember when trolling was an art form, a give and take between an armchair psychopath and a frustrated, angry person tapping away on their keyboard. These days it’s just a drive-by copy/paste.

          For shame.

      • LOL! What happened to Muhammad Hussein bin Jabbar? Did you forget that one or something?

  • delazeur

    After a few years of this, a gate agent recommended to me I start using my full middle name, rather than just my middle initial, when booking flights. It worked; I was never subjected to this step again.

    Evidence of how poorly managed those lists were/are: it’s possible that your name with middle initial was on the list, while your full name was not. I remember some outraged news stories when people on the no-fly list were allowed to board because their name had been misspelled in the database.

    • Murc

      Evidence of how poorly managed those lists were/are: it’s possible that your name with middle initial was on the list, while your full name was not.

      Equally likely: there’s someone with his first and last name, and same middle initial, but not his full middle name, on the list.

      • rea

        Which of course is why they refused to let a certain Edward M. Kennedy board on at least one memorable occasion

    • BigHank53

      Also evidence of how useless the damn thing is. What’s the point of it if is this easy to get around it?

      • Derelict

        When I was director of safety for a small cargo airline, I had to check the no-fly list every day to make sure none of our pilots was on it. Every freaking day for the same group of guys and gals who’d been flying for us for years. And I had to document that I’d checked the list.

        The entire TSA/DHS edifice is bullshit. We had to get ramp access badges for the pilots so they could get to and from their aircraft. A pilot flying from Savannah, GA to Columbia, SC had to go the the TSA office in Sav for fingerprinting, photograph, and background check. The SAV office would then issue a ramp-access badge.

        But that badge was no good in Columbia, SC. The TSA office there would not recognize any of the work done by any other TSA office. So the pilot had to undergo the same procedure in Columbia. And if we had to send him to Louisville, KY some night, none of his ID would be recognized there.

  • Dilan Esper

    +1

    This is a classic example of government by talking point. Some strategist douchebag took a poll and this polled well, so now it becomes the quasi official position of the party even though it is a dumb idea.

    • ohplease173

      Is it, though, or is it just that the idea’s current incarnation stinks?

      • Dilan Esper

        It’s really a bad idea, at least in any form anyone will propose it.

        A terror list with full due process and judicial review could work, but the whole attraction of these lists to executive branch officials is that they can do it in secret.

        • ohplease173

          What’s the attraction of the list for legislators, then?

          Forgive me if I am missing something obvious, but is it any sort of workable form of this any different than what we have now, or would it be doing the same thing but in a different way?

          There’s got to be something that we can do to stop this stuff from happening. I’m much more sympathetic to the arguments from conservatives than I expected to be, but at the same time, I can’t think it’s as one-sided as they’d like it to seem. I wonder if my views are skewed because those who are pro-gun (or however you want to define it) are louder and more frequent on Twitter than others are.

          • Hogan

            What’s the attraction of the list for legislators, then?

            Keeping America safe. You got a problem with that, hippie?

            • ohplease173

              Haha…seriously. You have to think that this isn’t just a political stunt and that people like Murphy and Booker are genuine in their desire to do something. But you’d also want to think that they’d have someone telling them what they are proposing is bad and/or wouldn’t work and they they should try something else. Hell, they are senators! Any number of people will take their calls.

              I saw a seemingly conservative/Libertarian legal scholar/lawyer say he advised a California state senator, who was a Democrat, who was trying something similar that it wouldn’t work, and that he came around to realize the scholar/lawyer was right. What’s the deal with Senate Democrats, then?

          • efgoldman

            What’s the attraction of the list for legislators, then?

            So they can be seen to be doing something, anything.

            • ohplease173

              Instead of something else, or instead of nothing, which is really the only alternative?

              • Incontinentia Buttocks

                “If someone is so dangerous that s/he isn’t allowed to fly, how can s/he be allowed to get a gun?”

                A terrible argument, but an excellent soundbite.

                • ohplease173

                  But again, these are people who have the ability to get stuff done, and the ability to get experts to talk to them.

                  I believe they are sincere in their desire to stop gun violence, so I have to wonder, who is telling them this gun control solution won’t run into due process issues, and who, if anyone, doesn’t care?

                  And if the no-fly list, or anything similar, is an issue, why isn’t anything done to improve it, or even end it?

                • JL

                  And if the no-fly list, or anything similar, is an issue, why isn’t anything done to improve it, or even end it?

                  Winning on civil libertarian stuff as relates to the security state is really really hard, because people are genuinely scared of terrorism. And even if in principle they agree with due process and so on, in their heart of hearts a lot of people really do believe that almost anyone who gets put on a no-fly list or something like that did something to deserve it. Most people don’t see it as something likely to bite them or their loved ones.

                • djw

                  I fully endorse JL’s response. Nothing is done to improve the no-fly list because most politicians–virtually all Republicans and far too many Democrats–simply don’t care about due process, and by and large the public doesn’t either so they pay no costs for that indifference.

          • njorl

            The attraction is that it’s a chance to win a fight against the NRA, which never seems to happen. It’s a shame that it’s a bad fight to win, and a bad mechanism to use to win a fight.

            I think the best outcome is that some legislators get shamed into defying the NRA, but that this particular legislation dies, with the NRA getting a reputation for defending terrorists’ rights to shoot people.
            I don’t mind some hypocrisy for propaganda purposes as long as no bad legislation passes.

        • I agree that the terror watch list is a mess and a due process nightmare but the only way to fix this is to get the R’s on board. Congress won’t allow such sloppy DP procedure to be used to deny people GUNS! but they might if it is fixed. I think it’s a good strategy to fix (maybe) two problems: DP for the no-fly list and prevent some crazy people from getting guns.

          • PhoenixRising

            This is what I am hoping for.

            My niece was named after our exchange student from Finland. The combination with our garden-variety German-American surname just so happened to be the name of a member of the Bader-Meinhoff Gang. So from the time she turned 2 until she wrote her own note to Homeland Security (I took dictation) she couldn’t get a boarding pass without being inspected by an agent of the airline.

            This was an enormous pain in the neck and no one gave a shit.

            So if what it takes to tackle the over-broad, poorly-drawn feckless stupidity of the ‘no fly list’ is to associate this lack of accountability with the Only True Amendment? Sounds good. Let’s talk about the criteria for that list and how to get off of it. Lots and lots.

            • Linnaeus

              A similar thing happened – fortunately, it was quite brief – to a friend of mine whose first and last name are the same as a known IRA terrorist.

          • brendalu

            Right, this is maybe the one and only thing that could get the Rs seriously talking about reforming the TW list and developing a process to challenge/get off of it. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself after my initial reaction of “wait, how are we the ones defending the watch list all of a sudden?”

  • Pseudonym

    I have to agree. It would be good to have the same list be used for no-fly and no-gun purposes were that list subject to due process. Unfortunately the stalled gun debate is more about posturing at this point than substantive accomplishment.

  • ohplease173

    I was wondering about this, and it seems like those against what some Democrats are trying to do have a very good point. But the link from the ACLU says that it could be done correctly, if changes were made, so perhaps it’s not the disaster some on the right are claiming it is.

    On that note:

    1. What are some good sites for someone who is not a lawyer to read, for both a right- but especially a left-leaning perspective?

    2. What do conservatives suggest that we do, if anything, to try to deal with the problem?

    3. Is there anyone on the left we should not listen to? Are people like Dahlia Lithwick out to lunch with their arguments?

    4. Is there anyone on the right we shouldn’t listen to? Maybe it’s just me, or maybe their passion is that strong, but many on the right arguing about this — Charles Cooke, Sean Davis — appear to be insufferable. (Not just this, but definitely on this.)

    • efgoldman

      2. What do conservatives suggest that we do, if anything, to try to deal with the problem?

      Not one goddamned thing, except more security theater and more erosion of basic civil liberties.

      4. Is there anyone on the right we shouldn’t listen to?

      Everyone.

      The patriot Act is/was a horror, but the worst parts are the secret lists and the secret “FBI letters.”

      Fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments, anyone?

      • ohplease173

        I was talking about guns, not no-fly lists, although it seems to be a fair question for both issues.

    • Warren Terra

      2. What do conservatives suggest that we do, if anything, to try to deal with the problem?

      This is a category error at this point. Totally serious question: when was the last time the conservatives offered any serious policy ideas, on any topic? On health care their alternative plans were talking points and bad jokes. On guns, banks, housing, etcetera they have no policies other than to malign the Democrats. I think you have to go back to about 2006 …

      • ohplease173

        I’m trying to read conservatives more, because I don’t think I read them enough, and yet, I can’t seem to disagree with your impression based on what I have seen so far.

        This could be my own bias talking, but is, say, Mother Jones or Washington Monthly at all like National Review? It seems like a good chunk of what is written is thinly-veiled campaign ads for Republicans, and almost all of it is written in a snide, nasty, insufferable tone. It’s as if all of the public faces of conservatism in the media are like the anonymous yahoos who populate certain comment sections, but with fewer outright conspiracy theories and more coherent sentences.

        It really gets me when they get hooked on what they think happened but what is, from what I can tell, just nonsense. Last night, I saw multiple people call Harry Reid a liar for claiming you could buy a weapon at a gun show without a background check. Had they read the text of the speech he gave, they could see he was talking about the so-called gun show loophole, which from what I can tell is an actual thing.

        I don’t mean to make this into a rant and/or get too far off topic, but Twitter is awesome, even for someone like he who doesn’t actively use it in his personal life, for finding new links. At the same time, keeping track of a conservation is hard, and the back and forth can quickly turn ridiculous. It’s hardly making a big impact on my daily life, but I wish there were an easier way to find interesting, useful links.

  • Just_Dropping_By

    As I’ve said elsewhere, the one good thing that could come out of tying restrictions on gun ownership to the No-Fly List would be that you might actually get a court to finally take a really hard look at the due process issues involved with the No-Fly List.

    • Cheerful

      My thought too. The No-Fly list has been a crap thing for awhile and it needs somebody with resources and political clout, like the NRA, to challenge its procedures. So I support taking people’s guns away on the list.

      Though I don’t really think people have an individual right to gun ownership anyway, and that it’s less important than from being barred flying, so I admit to not worrying too much about the current bill being proposed.

    • Gee Suss

      That’s what I was thinking: this is political jujitsu. The no-fly list isn’t going anywhere, let’s use it as a cudgel. Worst case we finally get rid of it.

      • Warren Terra

        Sadly, the worst case is probably that the no-fly list metastasizes into other parts of our daily life, while remaining inscrutable and unaccountable.

        Expanding it to regulating the sale of murder machines doesn’t bug me – for that purpose, I’d prefer it name everyone on the planet, and their pets – but there is a slippery slope argument to be made.

        • Gee Suss

          That’s a really good point. However, the goal here isn’t truly to expand the use of the watchlist. It’s really to hammer the NRA. we can stop it from metastasizing further without any risk.

          I hate the no fly list. I guarantee there are dozens of Excel files, each contradictory, each riddled with errors, flitting around the security infrastructure.

          This is a win-win with a potential slippery slope, but one that’s easily stoppable.

        • or that purpose, I’d prefer it name everyone on the planet, and their pets

          What, you wouldn’t trust OLD MAN CAT with a Ruger, say?

      • ohplease173

        Interesting take, but that requires Democrats to be clever on a level we haven’t seen in some time, no?

        • witlesschum

          The Dems haven’t been devoid of cleverness. Harry Reid telling the Bush Administration to go ahead and nominate Harriet Miers was mentioned here last week, for instance.

  • mikeSchilling

    The “terrorist watch list” is a due process nightmare, and it shouldn’t be used to restrict legal rights in its current form.

    Exactly.

  • thebewilderness

    At least now people will be able to find out if they are on the watch list. How brogressive.

    • rea

      At least now people will be able to find out if they are on the watch list.

      But if it turns out that you aren’t, you’re stuck with a gun.

      • thebewilderness

        I don’t think you would actually have to buy it, would you? Just make the attempt.

        • You could buy it and then donate it to charity!!!

  • tsam

    Correct about the list…In fact I’m pretty sure that’s a distraction to take the attention off of semi automatic carbine rifles with high capacity magazines that are way too accurate and rapid firing for civilian use.

    • JonH

      “Correct about the list…In fact I’m pretty sure that’s a distraction to take the attention off of semi automatic carbine rifles with high capacity magazines that are way too accurate and rapid firing for civilian use.”

      Which the NRA will argue is no less an infringement of rights.

      Rights are going to be infringed, the question is which rights?

      • tsam

        The NRA makes inaccurate, wildly false and batshit crazy arguments every damn day.

        Nobody’s rights are infringed by restricting and ending the sale of military rifles.

  • mutterc

    I know a Brian Young, and he had the same sorts of troubles flying as djw describes, until he got a redress number or something. Apparently there was a Brian Young in the IRA, and so now all of the (presumably many) Brians Young in the USA have the same problem. What a clusterfuck.

    • dougr

      That’s socialism for you, government can’t do anything right.

  • The result will either be (1) a better no-fly list, (2) marginally fewer guns sold, or (3) a combination of the above.

    Having trouble seeing a downside to restricting gun purchases as much as flying, and you’re not even pretending the no-fly list is going away.

    Waiting for Scott to agree with Just_Dropping_By that this is the type of incremental change we need.

    • djw

      (1) makes some assumptions I can’t go along with. Nothing about the way due process violations have been handled in the war on terror gives me any confidence here. Also, especially, since those with Middle Eastern/Muslim sounding names apparently find their way onto the no-fly list more easily.

      (2) is a good thing, all else equal, although it’s probably very marginal. But all else isn’t But the tradeoff is the further erosion of due process rights, and that doesn’t seem like a good trade to me. As I said in the post, the principle of “people shouldn’t be denied a legal right without due process” doesn’t get tossed out the window, for me, in those cases where I think the legal right has been defined too broadly.

      • witlesschum

        Giving aid and comfort to the security theater industrial complex isn’t something I’m able to be happy about. It’s all a giant boondoggle in the classic sense, spending so much money on security theater over the last decade and change that didn’t do much to make anyone safer.

        Beating the NRA up with this is fun and all, but this seems like if the Dems started a whispering campaign that Bloody Wayne was gay. It’s a.) morally wrong and b.) even if it works short term, it’s against the liberal side’s interests in the long term to appeal to illiberal impulses because we need more liberalism, not less. Maybe you have to do that sometimes, tactically, but you can’t do too often or it becomes a strategic liability.

  • Joe_JP

    You still can since that isn’t the only thing on the table:

    Still, the chamber is likely to vote on two Democratic-backed gun measures: a proposal from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) meant to bar those on federal terror watch lists from obtaining firearms, and a plan from Murphy and Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) mandating background checks for sales at gun shows and over the internet. Republicans are expected to put forward two of their own proposals for votes.

    The policy proposals here will have some missteps and a consistent opposition (Republicans don’t have it) to the terror watch list is a good civil libertarian move.

  • Denverite

    Incidently, I was apparently on some sort of list–obviously not the no-fly list, as I was never actually denied boarding, but some sort of extra scrutiny list–for several years in the early aughts. I couldn’t check into a flight online or at the kiosk, so I’d stroll up the agent to check in. The typical process of acquiring a boarding pass began with the ticketing agent taking my ID and flight information, clicking away at the terminal for a minute or two.

    In the mid-to-late 90s I was tailed by undercover security for several hours at Heathrow. Something in my luggage triggered security, and they had to look through it. While they were doing so in front of me, I was holding hands with my girlfriend-at-the-time. One of the security guards thought he saw me take something from the bag and pass it to her. They turned the luggage inside out, made me turn all my pockets inside out, searched her purse, etc.

    Anyway, they finally let us go, but we kept on seeing this plainclothes security guard wherever we were. Finally, when I went to the gate to board, he appeared and excused the attendant at the gate. He searched my backpack carry-on yet again, and made me turn out all my pockets again. When he didn’t find anything, he told me I was lucky that I gave the drugs to that girl I was with because he knew I had them in my bag. I told him he was crazy.

    • efgoldman

      we kept on seeing this plainclothes security guard wherever we were. Finally, when I went to the gate to board, he appeared and excused the attendant at the gate. He searched my backpack carry-on yet again

      I’m guessing it was the Broncos logo on the backpack and the Broncos jammies within. Would sure as hell be suspicious to me.
      “Excuse me, flight attendant? That man over there in 16B is making me uncomfortable. Can you get him off the aircraft, please?”

      • Denverite

        This was about six months before their first Super Bowl triumph.

        • efgoldman

          This was about six months before their first Super Bowl triumph.

          If you read LeCarre, Deighton, or Fleming, British intelligence is often prescient about such things.

    • wjts

      On a research trip to London, I was peering over the southern end of the Vauxhall Bridge, trying to figure out how to climb down there so I could take a photograph of a neat-looking water gate when three Authorized Firearms Officers armed with MP-5s piled out of a patrol car behind me to inquire as to what I was doing. Turns out, the odd- looking building to my right was the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) headquarters, and I was told that Her Majesty’s Government takes a dim view of grubby-looking bearded men wearing a windbreaker and a baseball cap people prowling around the place with a camera.

      • Hogan

        You’d think they’ve have gone with something less . . . splashy.

  • postmodulator

    I don’t like the no-fly list. I must admit that I like the idea of putting some points on the board against the NRA, though. Maybe one legislative defeat would help politicians get the idea that the NRA can be beaten.

    • Joe_JP

      Their recent statement was hedged … if the proposal was phrased the right way, it’s possible they might even let it go. At least, the statement looked like they actually were running a bit scared.

      One thing they emphasize in the statement, e.g., are American citizens. But,”only about 2 percent of them are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents allowed to buy guns. The rest are foreigners, many of whom are not permitted to purchase firearms here”

      http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/why-can-people-on-the-terrorist-watch-list-buy-guns-and-other-faqs/

      • Gee Suss

        If that’s the case, then the Dems should be screaming “EVEN THE NRA SUPPORTS THIS!” Make them own it.

        • Joe_JP

          NRA’s support has caveats and is pretty vague but can see their statement being used against them somehow.

          The NRA believes that terrorists should not be allowed to purchase or possess firearms, period. Anyone on a terror watchlist who tries to buy a gun should be thoroughly investigated by the FBI and the sale delayed while the investigation is ongoing. If an investigation uncovers evidence of terrorist activity or involvement, the government should be allowed to immediately go to court, block the sale, and arrest the terrorist. At the same time, due process protections should be put in place that allow law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a watchlist to be removed.

          https://www.nraila.org/articles/20160615/nra-statement-on-terror-watchlists

          • Hogan

            So we should add a question to the form: “Are you a terrorist? __ Yes __ No”

  • Warren Terra

    Speaking of gun regulation: in the friendly land to our north, right now, assault weapons are not permitted for hunting or other non-target-shooting purposes, and so cannot be stored or used outside of registered shooting ranges. But the right is trying to change that …

    (I heard a really disturbing interview with a Canadian pro-gun spokesthing, who among other tics got really offended if you referred to his fetish items as “weapons” instead of as “firearms”.

    • (I heard a really disturbing interview with a Canadian pro-gun spokesthing, who among other tics got really offended if you referred to his fetish items as “weapons” instead of as “firearms”.

      So I guess “sex toys” would be right out, huh?

    • JonH

      What does the numptie think the “arms” part means? Upper body limbs?

    • Patick Spens

      Quick clarification: “assault weapon” isn’t a category that means anything in Canada. The category you are talking about is Restricted Firearms. Which doesn’t really have anything to the American conception of an assault weapon. ie. A revolver is a Restricted weapon and one of these with bayonet mount isn’t. Whereas the reverse would be true for assault weapons.

  • sam

    My question to igor volsky yesterday when he tried to claim that this bill somehow had adequate due process – I got zero response other than a few likes by a couple of right wingers. I had to post a follow up to note that I agreed with igor on gun control generally.

    @igorvolsky doesn’t appear that petitioner has the right to see the information that is the basis for the denial – how is that legally fair?

    Available here:
    https://twitter.com/verysimple/status/743145499553861632

    • Joe_JP

      Does he provide a link to the full bill some place? Just see a screen shot of part of it there.

  • Gwen

    Hi DJW,

    I too agree with the ACLU that we need to tread carefully here.

    Personally, I believe we need more and better gun control, and I say this as a gun owner (I enjoy target shooting).

    And I do think it would be reasonable to tie *a* do-not-fly list with a do-not-buy list for guns.

    However, I am concerned that the Do-Not-Fly List that we actually have, is arbitrary and does not adequately address Due Process concerns.

    As some of you may know from my previous comments, I myself am LGBT (genderqueer). A few years ago I joined in a protest against the FDA’s then-existing rules that forbade males who had sex with a male after 1977 from ever donating blood. I went to my local bloodbank with the negative (as in, disease-free) test results of an STD test from my local Planned Parenthood. I presented it to them and then told them I was bisexual. At that point I was put on an “indefinite deferral” which is a nice way of saying a “permanent ban.”

    After the Orlando shooting last Sunday I went to the Blood Bank again. As you may know, the FDA recently changed their rules and now gay and bisexual men who have not had gay sex in the past year are allowed to donate. But what the FDA apparently failed to do was provide guidance on how to remove people like myself from the ban list. So, in the gay community’s most desperate hour, I was arbitrarily denied because the procedural rules were lacking.

    My concern with the current No-Fly/No-Buy proposals is that they might set up the sort of bureaucratic catch-22 that I find myself having to deal with in donating blood.

    Although I very, very much want to prevent terrorists from having guns, I do not want our government to arbitrarily and unfairly prevent innocent people from exercising their Second Amendment rights. If someone is added to the list, they need to be given a clear reason for it, and be given a reasonable opportunity to appeal. This does not need to be a judicial process. And it doesn’t need to be perfectly transparent — some information related to terror investigations may very well be too sensitive to share. But the ideal process, for me, looks a lot more like what the ACLU would design, than what the Obama administration has implemented.

    Now, to be sure, I don’t buy into the idea that more guns make anyone *safer*. There may be some very limited cases where individual LGBT people may feel they need a gun to protect themselves from bullies etc. (and let us not forget that transwomen are constantly subject to violence). But suicide is rampant in our community, and handguns particularly are often the means by which those deaths occur. I feel confident in saying that LGBT Americans would be (on balance) safer if we threw all the guns in this country into the deep blue sea. But safety is only one thing we value as Americans. Freedom and fairness are other things we value. And if we are to have those, then we need to fix the Do Not Fly list before we go tying other things to it.

    • Warren Terra

      Basically: there’s guns, and there’s guns. And there’s the possibility for the sensible regulation of legal gun ownership.

      I don’t see any legitimate reason – or, indeed, any designed purpose other than warfare, or the mass killing of humans – for a civilian to own a semiautomatic rifle. I see no legitimate purpose for clips or magazines (or whatever the shibboleth is) that contain double-digit numbers of bullets (or cartridges or, again, whatever the shibboleth is). I see no reason why gun owners face registration, storage, and insurance requirements that are an utter joke, especially compared to automobiles (which must be registered, must be maintained, must be insured, and must locked up when not in use to get insurance coverage and avoid liability).

      We’re not going to get hunting rifles banned; we probably shouldn’t. We’re not going to get revolvers banned; they’re probably justifiable for self-defense and against venomous animals and small predators. But: the most popular rifles and the most popular handguns in this country have no designed purpose other than the rapid murder of dozens of human beings. Those sorts of tools do not belong in civilian hands.

      • Gwen

        I somewhat agree. Although I am not inherently opposed to semi-automatic rifles (and sort of ambivalent about “assault rifle” bans), I do definitely think we need some kind of magazine limits as well as ammo restrictions.

        And to be honest — since I’m sort of split-minded on it — I guess I’d support an AR/Glock ban just to stick it to the NRA.

        My own personal grudge is that some people seem to hoard ammunition, which makes it harder for other people to get any. (This is, best I can tell, why Wal-Mart never seems to have any 22LR cartridges in stock).

        But here’s the thing. What we’re talking about are firm rules that would apply to everyone. My big bugaboo, is rules that are applied arbitrarily or indiscriminately.

      • sam

        But then we should just regulate the goddamn guns, like we’re actually still allowed to do even under current Supreme Court precedent, despite what the NRA propagandists would claim, and not put potentially innocent people into a bureaucratic black hole because their names may be similar to a brown person that talked funny near a racist one day.

    • ohplease173

      I don’t know much about guns, but I think I know enough to say there’s a difference between an AR-15 and a regular handgun. Unless the concern is that any sort of concession leaves the door open for something more drastic, why are some so hell bent on not giving up them or something like them? Do people really feel the need to have something bigger than a regular handgun for protection? It seems truly silly to say that you are going to stop something like an attack, given the number of things that have to go right for that to happen.

      • Gwen

        There’s a lot of propaganda around this issue.

        In the past 20 years or so the whole “tactical” subculture has sprung up among gun enthusiasts. The whole premise of this is that you can, in fact, beat off a small army of thugs. But only if you have big guns with lots of stopping power. And ninja-like moves.

        I do not have a CCH license, in large part because I did not want to risk getting into a protracted discussion with the Texas Department of Public Safety over my visits to my gender therapist (ca. 2010-2013). I simply don’t trust the State of Texas to treat me fairly, and so I’ve been kind of avoiding the whole thing.

        But honestly, even if I did have my carry license, I’m not sure I’d ever carry. Because frankly I don’t think it would really solve any problems.

        Having taken the CCH course, however, I can tell you that the instructors honestly seem to believe that carrying really is making you and everyone around you safer.

        (I am not above scatalogical humor; one of my college friends recently organized a protest as part of the University of Texas guns-on-campus debate where they had toy fart guns (guns that make fart sounds). I frankly think a fart gun would probably be about as useful as a real one during a campus shooting, given the fact that an active shooter is going to have the initiative and tactical momentum on his side).

        Anyway, the NRA of course is the source of a lot of the course material, and much of the propaganda around it. The tactical subculture has been a total goldmine for them.

        See, for a hunter or a target shooter, the answer to the question “how many guns should I own” is a utilitarian practical question. A hunter might own a few rifles for different sized game. I own one 22LR pistol because that’s what I am comfortable with.

        For the tactical folks, it seems like the answer is “as many as I can afford!!!”

        • Gwen

          FWIW I have to admit that I really enjoy watching YouTube videos of people blowing up watermelons and ballistics gel. But only from a sciency-science angle, not a “just imagine that was a jackbooted thug” angle.

        • witlesschum

          A family member of mine who was in the military and now works in the gun industry gets annoyed as hell at those tactical wankers. He says the phrase “tacticool” like it’s the most dismissive possible insult in the world.

        • JL

          As I mentioned on Twitter yesterday in response to that dipshit National Review column by Daniel French, nobody with any sense would want to use an AR-15 for home protection or other indoor defense. It overpenetrates and it’s too long to maneuver with easily in small spaces.

          I bothered to tweet about it because the central point of French’s column was that liberals, unlike him, don’t know anything about guns. And yet he was pushing the virtues of an AR-15 for home protection.

      • BoredJD

        It’s not for protection. The AR-15 is now a “modern sporting rifle” and is useful for hunting. Get with the propaganda.

  • Troll

    Troll Troll Trolley Trolley!

    • Warren Terra

      From your link:

      so they called the local FBI office in West Palm Beach and reported the incident. But they didn’t have the man’s name, since no sale was made, and the only surveillance footage they had was grainy.
      ….
      There was a follow-up conversation with agents, Abell said, but the FBI never visited the store or investigated further.
      ….
      He said his staffers contacted the FBI after the shooting to remind them about their run-in with the suspicious man. The store’s surveillance tape, however, had long since been overwritten, he said.

      So: the FBI didn’t take the threat (which amounted to being a not-atypical gundamentalist while speaking not-English) seriously, and the shopkeepers (1) don’t take security in their store seriously enough to take good video, or to keep it and (2) didn’t take this incident seriously enough to save the video they had.

      But, sure, this proves Obama helped plan everything.

    • Gwen

      I’m sure Obama is well aware of every phone call that the FBI field offices receives.

      Also it seems to me that calling local law enforcement is a lot likely to have an effect than calling the FBI. If only because the local guys are… local… and it beats doing the 90 percent of boring stuff that constitutes municipal police work.

      • witlesschum

        The local gun shop probably has connections on the local police force, too.

  • JonH

    Here’s the deal: The way things are now, SOME right(s) will have to be infringed to make any improvement.

    Which Amendments are you willing to give on?

    Somebody’s going to have to give, and I suspect there’s no way only gun rights are going to be infringed.

    The NRA can make a good case that restrictions on guns are no less an infringement than the no-fly list is an infringement of due process. The NRA might argue that infringing on the rights of one religion is less significant than infringing on everyone’s 2nd Amendment rights.

    So which rights are we going to opt to infringe?

    • so-in-so

      We have the “no-fly list” now, right? We have the police confiscating property without due process. We have the police killing unarmed civilians and barely saying “Oops” afterward. We have a party very ready to send anyone they really don’ like out of the country so they can be held without regard to the constitution, and local LEO’s running black sites to do the same thing on a smaller scale. I’m not convinced we are going to get those cleaned up any time soon. I don’t see the 2nd as a “slippery slope” since all those other infringements are already in place.

  • John not McCain

    Can we at least make it be the case that people on the no-fly list are prohibited from buying guns of mass slaughter? Or is it true that the constitution is a suicide pact?

    • witlesschum

      I’d rather live in a free society and take my extremely tiny chances of getting killed by terrorists, rather than deal with no fly lists which aren’t likely to really make me safer.

    • Joe_JP

      That’s a pretty narrow line between suicide and not suicide.

      Sounds like you don’t want “guns of mass slaughter” sold at all & this provides a sort of excuse to try to cut down the supply a tad. But, in the process, you have the due process problems with the list, which will cause difficulties for people in other ways.

      Might be better gun regulations to focus on though I did toy with the idea of a law only for certain types of guns. Those on the list buying a simple handgun or something is notably different.

  • Rob in CT

    The watch list & no fly list need due process reforms.

    Maybe the NRA can do something useful for once and drive politicians to reform the lists.

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