New York Daily News covers on November 18 ("NRA'S SICK JIHAD" — noted at the time by NB's Kristine Marsh) and today ("NOWHERE TO HIDE, JIHADI WAYNE") have accused the NRA of placing the right to purchase guns ahead of public safety from terrorist attacks.
The paper's bogus claim is based on the NRA's opposition to legislation prohibiting anyone on the government's "terror watch list" from purchasing a gun. While the idea might appear to have sensible on the surface, it doesn't survive scrutiny, as the folks at the group's legislative arm painstakingly explained over four years ago:
Why NRA Opposes Gun Control Supporters` "Terrorist Watchlist" Bills
Some believe that S. 34 (Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.) and H.R.1506 (Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.) are intended to prevent “terrorists” from buying guns. Here’s what the bills really propose:
- That a person who is not otherwise prohibited from buying a firearm, and who therefore would otherwise pass a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check, could still be prohibited from acquiring a firearm if he is on the FBI’s watchlist.
- That once a person is told that he is on the watchlist, he would be subject to a 10-year prison sentence for a gun already possessed, even if he has been placed on the watchlist by mistake, or for a minor or unsubstantiated reason.
- That a person who goes to court to challenge his placement on the watchlist would not be informed of the specific suspicions or allegations upon which his watchlisting is based.
- That the person’s challenge to his watchlisting would be decided by a judge, not a jury.
- That the judge would not be allowed to consider all of the available evidence.
Gosh, that sounds like there are all kinds of unconstitutional due-process violations embedded in such legislation. In fact, this type of legislation is so flawed that even the ACLU(!) opposes it:
We write today about the use of terror watch lists to screen gun purchases. The ACLU believes that the current terror watch list process is deeply flawed. Evidence from numerous government reports document ill-designed and inaccurate lists with serious inadequacies in the process for placing and removing individuals from the list. Even worse, the lists are shrouded in secrecy: who is on the list, the standard for placement on the list, and the requirements for removal from the list are all secret. Given these problems, we do not believe that anyone should be deprived of the right to purchase a gun, or the right to fly, or any other benefit of membership in civil society based solely on placement on a terror watch list.
Here are some of the NRA's more detailed objections stated four years ago:
- As the name suggests, the “watchlist” is not limited to people guilty of “terrorism” or who are suspected of other acts serious enough to warrant their arrest. It broadly includes people “known or reasonably suspected to be or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism,” including those only “being preliminarily investigated to determine whether they have links to terrorism” and those “for whom the FBI does not have an open terrorism investigation.”
- ... Ninety-five percent of watchlisted persons are already prohibited from acquiring firearms in the U.S., because they are not U.S. citizens or legal resident aliens.
- ... Tellingly, S. 34’s and H.R. 1506’s sponsors could not name a single gun crime committed by a watchlisted person who purchased a firearm after passing a NICS check.
- As D.C.’s and Chicago’s handgun bans have proven, prohibiting the possession of firearms doesn’t stop criminals from illegally acquiring them.
- There would be an enormous potential for abuse, if the FBI were given arbitrary power over a constitutionally-protected right. This would be true even if the FBI had an unblemished record where civil rights are concerned.
The NRA went on to point out that the Obama administration has had a horrifying tendency to attempt to classify everyday people who care about the course this nation is taking as "potential terrorists," including military veterans, prolife demonstrators, and anyone who opposes stricter gun control or purchases guns.
If the Daily News had the arguments on its side, or if there are new elements in such legislation which address the NRA's objections, it would make them or identify them in a reasoned manner. Instead, the paper has admitted it has no tenable arguments and no new news by demonizing the NRA, while strongly implying that anyone who agrees with the NRA's position is a de facto terrorist enabler.
In March 2014, the Daily News was identified as one of ten U.S. newspapers in the deepest financial distress. The fact that it's gone to the cover-story well twice in less than a week in its obsession to smear the NRA would seem to indicate that it richly deserves to be in financial trouble.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.