No-Buy Terrorist Watch Lists: Bugs vs. Features

It appears that all the politicians are jumping on the idea of a no-buy list based on terrorist watch lists. It’s not merely a “bipartisan” enthusiasm for violating your rights, it’s downright nonpartisan.

Obama certainly loves him some no-buy, thinking anyone who disagrees with him must be crazy. Which could conveniently get them added to the standard prohibited person list for a NICS check.

Clinton, of course, has long been committed to the destruction of Second Amendment-protected rights, and sees this as another in a long line of rationalizations for victim disarmament.

Trump is not only embracing the no-process idea, he’s asking the NRA to join and help him. Perhaps he momentarily forgot he’s no longer a Democrat.

At any rate, I’m sure that staunch defender of RKBA, the NRA, will set Mr. Trump straight…

Um. Oh. Wait a minute.

“We are happy to meet with Donald Trump. The NRA’s position on this issue has not changed. 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.”

But we can count on the Libertarian Party to speak up for human/civil rights, can’t we?

Maybe not. LP Presidential nominee Gary Johnson has gone from “No, it is unconstitutional to deny someone’s rights”  to “Gov. Johnson believes Second Amendment rights are too fundamental to be denied without due process, a position he reiterated on Fox News just minutes ago as I type: terrorist watch lists are flawed, include innocent people, and should be fixed before we use them to revoke rights forever. We should be open to a “discussion” of broadening the definition of a prohibited person. The nicest thing I can say about that shifting position is that it’s awfully wishy-washy for the party that holds that “all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.” A more accurate summation is unprintable on this web site.

If all these principled and brilliant people think a no-buy list for terrorist suspects is a good idea, maybe we should look at it more closely. Could those flaws I see actually be features?

That’s going to be tough to say, because a no-buy list of terror suspects doesn’t yet exist. What’s been introduced in Congress will be debated, amended, and marked up in assorted committees. We’ll have to guess, based on what does exist.

The starting point is that persons in the Terrorism Screening Database would be added to the prohibited persons list under 922(t)(1)(B)(ii).

The TSB (“watch list”) consists of…

…pretty much anything someone wants it to be. Including wives found to be troublesome by disgruntled hubbies, not to mention the occasional senator, peace activist nun, lesbians, and Cats, toddlers, and House Representatives. Heck, Nelson Mandela was on the list.

Note that the bill would flag such threatening people in a NICS check. Sale denied.

Scenario 1: Joe Terrorist wonders if they’re on to him. He strolls into his local Black Rifles R Us and tries to buy heat-seekingbullet-piercing-bullet bullet-hose of a weapon of mass destruction. He gets denied. Since he knows he has a clean criminal and mental health record — but also knows he’s a secret terrorist — he figures out the obvious and goes on the lam. So much for that investigation. I’m sure the FBI will be happy.

Hmm. Maybe they’ll amend that to allow the sale, but will immediately notify the FBI so they can go pick him up in a timely manner.

Scenario 2: Omar Asshole buys a gun, and a few days later, before the feds show up, he goes on his rampage. Whoops. I’m sure that’ll be noted in someone’s annual performance evaluation.

Scenario 3: Billy Bob Hunter gets a downcheck on NICS. While he’s scratching his head puzzlement, the feds come and drag him in for questioning. Probably because his name shared too many common letters with a suspected terrorist. Or was a small government advocate, peace activist, senator…

Remember: this is based on the same source used to assemble the no-fly list that has enabled the TSA to capture exactly zero terrorists in nearly fifteen years.

But don’t worry, Billy Bob. If you’ve incorrectly been denied, you can always appeal to correct the record. Someday. Maybe. In the interim, what’s a violation of basic human/civil rights compared to terrorism? That’s what DC congresscritters call “due process.”

Something else to remember: Roughly 95% of NICS denials are false positives. If you believe that adding a known-corrupted list to that broken system will make it work better, you’ve never had to work with a legacy computer system.

But let us pretend it all works.

Scenario 4: Syed Jihad suspects they’re on to him. Following the lead of the majority of firearm-toting criminals, he has someone else buy his gun for him, or gets it on the street. FBI becomes aware of him when turn they on cable news the next morning.

If we take Feinstein et al at their word that this terrorist addendum to the NICS check is to stop terrorists then the best case scenario is that 1) a known terrorist 2) consciously chooses to purchase his weaponry via an FFL, 3) actually gets flagged, and either 4) is then stupid enough to delay his attack long enough for the feds to get off their butts and investigate (this assumes the sale proceeds to avoid tipping off terror-boy), or 5) gets denied and yet doesn’t opt for another technique like mowing down pedestrians with his car on his way home from the gun store.

Feinstein and King would have you believe that their little attack on basic freedoms would have stopped the Orlando Asshole‘s attack…

…even though he had no criminal record, and was not on the watch list, and acted faster than do the feds typically investigate denials.

A buggy system? Only if stopping real terrorists is the purpose. On the other hand, a watch list that allows individual immigration officers to ban their wives from the country with a simple fake data entry is made to order for listing those pesky “Oath Keepers, Other Liberty Groups” and taking away their tools of liberty. Instant prohibited persons. Objecting to a congresscritter who doesn’t properly represent your pro-freedom views in DC might be enough to get listed. So much for those calls to contact your representatives.

Yes; those are features. If your goal is a totalitarian police state with no meaningful constitutional protections for the subjects. It looks like Feinstein has finally found a way to force Mr. and Mrs. America to turn them all in. By nonjudicial, bureaucratic decree. This time with at least the passive backing of the Republican and Libertarian Presidential candidates, and the National Rifle Association, along with the Democrats.

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3 thoughts on “No-Buy Terrorist Watch Lists: Bugs vs. Features”

  1. Increments.

    The Soviet slogan was “Comrade turn in your guns”.
    And when I don’t (because I won’t) then you will need a list. How about a secret black list? How about a secret terror black list? No judge, no jury, no opportunity to confront your accuser, no redress of grievance. A list based on the belief that I and my weapon are a threat to my fellow citizens and the state. That’s right! A list based on BELIEF! Stateism is the most dangerous religion ever perpetrated by evil’s workers. Let me see if I fully understand; the biggest mass murderer in the history of mankind (gov) is going to save me from little mass murderers by leaving me defenseless? Hmm? Nope! I reject your arguments for gun control.
    Evil will not, because it can not, save you from evil. The biggest mass murderer in history keeping me safe from little mass murderers. Absurd on its face.

    Matthew 12:25-26 “And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?”

    How indeed.

  2. I have been on the No fly list and it took some effort and time to get off of it, the lame reason I was told was because my real name is a common name that someone else who has it; had a valid reason to be on it.

    The reality of it all is that this country is racing towards tyranny, our so call freedom loving organizations like the GOP and the NRA (& others) who are suppose to be standing up for our constitutional rights main interest today is to keep those people who run & lead those organization (isn’t it funny that they are all inside the beltway types by the way) in power and in the gravy.

    Either they stand for “shall not be infringed” or they do not, anything that infringes on our legal right to bear arms is unconstitutional but if you have been paying attention lately we don’t live by that document any longer; do we?

    When tyranny becomes law
    Rebellion becomes duty!

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