Democrats’ gun sales ban bill gives the U.S. attorney general the discretion to decide whether a person meeting the terrorist watch list criteria should be prevented from purchasing a firearm.
Gun deaths are down. Gun crimes are down. And progressives still want to take your guns. To aid that purpose, and also because they think it will give Democrats a boost during election season, they are pushing legislation that would allow the Justice Department to forbid the sale or transfer of firearms to, they say, terrorists. Or maybe just to suspected terrorists. Or maybe to people on the federal no-fly list. Or maybe to all of these people. The Democrats have not been clear about just who would be prevented from purchasing firearms under the proposed law.
We’ll Decide Who Gets Guns, on a Rolling Basis
President Barack Obama said in his weekly address, “Right now, people on the no-fly list can walk into a store and buy a gun. That is insane. If you’re too dangerous to board a plane, you’re too dangerous, by definition, to buy a gun. And so I’m calling on Congress to close this loophole, now.” Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also refers to the no-fly list when advocating for the gun sales ban.
On the other hand, the legislation itself, introduced most recently by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), is entitled the “Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015.” Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said it must be passed to keep individuals on the terrorist watch list from buying firearms. But Feinstein herself has referred to both the no-fly list and the terrorist watch list when talking about the bill.
So which watch list does the Democrats’ gun ban rely on, and why the obfuscation? The Democrats aren’t going to give anyone a straight answer, but we can go straight to the bill’s text (Senate version, House version). It turns out that the gun sales ban is not tied to the no-fly list, as falsely stated by the president and Clinton and numerous other people, including journalists who have baked this false assumption into their writing. But neither is it directly tied to the terrorist watch list.
We’re Keeping a Private List
Instead, the relevant statutory text links the gun sales ban to individuals who are ”known (or appropriately suspected) to be or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism, or providing material support thereof.” That language is cribbed from Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-6, which is what created the terrorist watch list (PDF). Thus, the bill gives the U.S. attorney general the discretion to decide whether a person meeting the terrorist watch list criteria should be prevented from purchasing a firearm.
Continue reading below…
Take Note: How does one get on the no fly list?