Executive Orders, Watchlists, and Rights Violations — Oh My!

So in the wake of the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Obama’s curiously limp Oval Office speech, the latest call — by everyone from (pardon me while I laugh) “conservative” Donald Trump to “progressive” Big O himself — is to deny gun rights to anyone on the no-fly list.

Or is it the terrorist watch list? Even the politicians screeching most stridently in favor of this latest political fad don’t seem to have any idea that the no-fly list and the terrorist watch list are two different things.

Two very similar things, granted. Two lists created arbitrarily out of the fears and fantasies of bureaucrats. Two lists filled with flawed, incomplete, and often irrational data. Two lists that often produce laughably awful injustices.* Two lists it’s nearly impossible to get removed from. Two lists that are maintained in undemocratic secrecy. Two lists that are worlds removed from the due process protections of the Bill of Rights.

But different. Really.

One state governor — unsurprisingly it’s Dannel Malloy of Connecticut — has even vowed to issue an executive order ensuring that none of those pesky terrorists in his state can buy guns. Which list of terrorists he plans to use remains muddled.

Malloy is, of course, not the only one promising to sling orders about. Valerie Jarrett reports that Obama is finalizing his long-awaited executive order on guns. That should be exciting. And ineffective.

Because that’s the thing

All these faddish measures won’t work. You know that. But it’s the ways in which they won’t work that are fascinating.

They won’t work to prevent terrorist attacks of course. (The San Bernardino murderers weren’t on these lists, and the female of the pair had even been vetted and passed by immigration officials despite the fact that she and her future hubby were already merrily chatting away about jihad and mayhem before the fedgov welcomed her to the USA.) But they also won’t work for their real purpose, which is to keep us from buying guns.

AND — most telling of all, I think — they won’t even work for their political/PR purpose, which is to display the peacock feathers or sound the rooster crows of politicians.

Other than a few diehard fanbois and grrls is anybody — anybody? — the least bit impressed with Obama or Malloy? In your wanderings about town (or about the Internet) do you hear anybody saying, “Yeah, boy, they’re really gonna stop those dirty, rotten gun owning terrorists now?” or do you hear gun owners lamenting, “Oh no, this time my guns and I are really done for! I’m so scared!”


Sure, all this order-slinging is anti-constitutional, dictatorial, and in violation of both the letter and the spirit of the Bill of Rights. Sure, arbitrarily putting people on government lists to be punished is creepy. Sure, using those lists to deny basic rights is everything bad you might ever want to say about it. And potentially dangerous.

If politicians get away with this, it will inspire them to treat us even more ill. Conceivably, there would be very little, at some future moment, to stop an anti-gun politician or bureaucrat from data-dumping the whole U.S. census into some list and declare in the fashion of the Soup Nazi, “No rights for you!”

All true. And effectively already in process.

But they’re only doing it because they’ve already lost. Not only lost the gun-rights battle (because, if nothing else, 3D printers are about to nullify every gun law on the planet). But because they’ve lost us. Our respect. Their credibility. Our belief that governments “represent” us or even can represent us. Their power to control us. This is increasingly true on both right and left. It’s been true in the libertarian center for decades.

We are watching not political peacocks displaying their grand feathers or roosters strutting about the chicken yard. We are watching political fish flopping about on a dock, hooks in their mouths, eyes wide with panic.


* Although it’s sadly not true that 72 employees of the Department of (Achtung!) Homeland Security are on the lists. Because surely thousands of these agents are a greater danger to both our liberty and our security than many of the people who actually are on the lists.


Ed. note: This commentary appeared first on TZP’s weekly email alert. If you would like to be among the first to see new commentary (as well as to get notice of new polls and recaps of recent posts), please sign up for our alert list. (See sidebar or, if you’re on a mobile device, scroll down). Be sure to respond when you receive your activation email!


8 thoughts on “Executive Orders, Watchlists, and Rights Violations — Oh My!”

  1. Gonna be a lot of good company on these here lists;

    “Then note the influential “progressive” advocacy group, MoveOn.org, is hosting a “Declare the NRA a terrorist organization” petition, a sentiment echoed by The New York Daily News’ resident Stasi, the same sick harpy who equated a conservative San Bernardino murder victim with his Islamist executioners……

    Read more: http://www.ammoland.com/2015/12/so-called-terror-watchlist-gun-ban-poses-greatest-danger-of-any-current-proposal/#ixzz3uPKT3y3G
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution
    Follow us: @Ammoland on Twitter | Ammoland on Facebook

  2. because, if nothing else, 3D printers are about to nullify every gun law on the planet

    No they’re not. Not the usual, semi-affordable printers that lay down plastic, anyway. The “guns” they produce can fire a few bullets, maybe, with tedious hand-feeding between shots.

    Real guns need to be made of steel. I’d rather be stuck with a 1950’s home-made “zip-gun” than with some piece of crap made of plastic.

    Other than that nit-pick, excellent article.

    1. Thank you, JdL. I agree that cheap, plastic-only 3D printers aren’t going to complete the firearm revolution that they’ve started. But a few years from now, better models that print metal will also become affordable — and I hope, common. I’m not looking at now. I’m looking at the day after tomorrow.

  3. One state governor — unsurprisingly it’s Dannel Malloy of Connecticut — has even vowed to issue an executive order ensuring that none of those pesky terrorists in his state can buy guns. Which list of terrorists he plans to use remains muddled.

    Two belated thoughts on this:

    First, if Dannel Malloy had his way, the “list” used for his gun ban EO wouldn’t be the “No-Fly List” or the “terrorism watch list”. Nah, he’d use the IRS list of last-year’s tax filers (i.e. everyone). Go big or go home.

    Second, if he did sign his EO, it’s only enforceable by the State of Connecticut, and then only they have their own background check system. In other words, it’s not going to happen.

    Let me ‘splain: If they don’t have their own state-run BC system, they’ll use NICS. Federal law does not ban the transfer of guns to people on “the list”, so the FBI won’t flag them. Therefore, gun sales proceed as usual.

    If they do have their own state-run BC system, then in order to enforce Malloy’s EO, they’ll need to get the list from Dept. of Homeland Security. Remember that this is the same list that’s so classified that DHS can neither confirm nor deny that anybody is even on it, let alone why.

    DHS isn’t going to release that list and risk it going public due to a simple state-level FOIA request (‘cuz you just know someone’s going to file one if they’re denied despite being a U.S. citizen with no criminal record). And the fed.gov has no obligation to help enforce a state-level EO that runs contrary to federal law (the list of criteria for becoming a federal “prohibited person” are quite clear; “terror watch list” isn’t there), and especially if doing so requires the release of information deemed classified for “national security”. So the state-level BC system won’t have the information. Therefore, gun sales proceed as usual.

    Ergo, it’s 100% unenforceable and meaningless.

  4. Sounds like 594 in Washington State; exactly zero enforcement so far because they know there will be hell to pay if they do!

    When tyranny becomes law
    Rebellion becomes duty!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *