Today liberal Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) announced he is issuing an executive order to forbid gun sales in the Nutmeg State to any individual who happens to ping the federal no-fly list. Time magazine's John Samburn dutifully reported the development but without giving any consideration to the reaction from critics who charge it infringes on the Second Amendment rights of innocent Americans by a deprivation of their due process rights.
Here's Samburn's story in full:
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy on Thursday announced he would sign an executive order banning the sale of guns to people on terrorist watch lists, making Connecticut the first state to do so, after a similar measure failed to win support in Washington last week. The order would affect people on watch lists maintained by the federal government, including the no-fly list.
“We are taking action today,” Malloy, a Democrat, said in a news conference, citing the recent shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., and saying those incidents should be a “wake-up call for all of us.”
“If you cannot fly due to being on a government watch list, you should not be able to purchase a firearm,” Malloy said.
On Dec. 3, the Senate voted down legislation that would have prevented people who are on federal terrorism watch lists from buying guns. The vote came a day after the massacre in San Bernardino, Calif., that killed 14 people. The shooters, however, were not on any federal lists.
Gov. Malloy said his state is in touch with the White House on obtaining federal terrorism and no-fly lists.
Connecticut has routinely been ahead of Congressional action and other states on pushing through gun control measures. In April 2013, the state passed some of the most restrictive gun regulations in the country following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The state barred the sale of high-capacity magazines and required background checks on all gun purchases.
According to the Government Accountability Office, suspected terrorists attempted to buy guns more than 2,200 times between 2004 and 2014 and were able to do so in 91% of cases.
But as Yahoo! Travel's Sid Lipsey noted back in September, there are "8 ways you can end up on the no-fly list" and many of them involve either bureaucratic snafus or non-criminal actions like traveling to certain countries or saying controversial things which flag the concern of an intelligence officer. For example:
There are numerous complaints from non-violent political activists who say they ended up on a no-fly list for something they said. Former Princeton University professor Walter Murphy told The Guardian that in 2007, he was denied a boarding pass in Newark International Airport. He suspects it was because of a high-profile lecture he gave that had been critical of then-President Bush. In 2012, Wade Hicks, the spouse of a Navy lieutenant, claimed he was told he was on a no-fly list. He thinks it was because of comments he made about 9/11.
Another angle unexplored on this story is whether, in fact, Gov. Malloy has the legal or constitutional authority to take this move. Samburn doesn't even hint that this may be a problem nor that it may cost Connecticut taxpayers a substantial sum in court when the inevitable legal challenge arises.
Here's another angle: If Malloy is so concerned about terrorism, why not apply the federal no-fly list to other modes of travel originating in Connecticut, let's say attempting to bar no-fly list members from boarding Amtrak trains or intercity buses? After all, if you're too dangerous to fly, might you be too dangerous to take a common carrier that operates on the surface and which more times than not has cargo compartments holding unscreened luggage?