Saturday, May 5, 2007

SUSPECTED TERRORISTS CAN BE IMPRISONED BUT NOT DENIED GUNS

I find it ironic, but not surprising, that the NRA opposes a bill that would prohibit suspected terrorists from buying firearms. (AP 5/5/07) I should disclose that I have never seen a gun control bill that I didn't like. I agree with the slogan that: "Guns Don't Kill People; People Kill People", but call me crazy, I think a person who did not have a gun would have difficulty shooting anybody.

But the tens of thousands of deaths every year and the slaughter of innocents by guns doesn't seem to deter the trend of having every American citizen packin'. "A Gun in Every Pocket" is reminiscent of the old slogan: "A Chicken in Every Pot", except there the goal was to feed all people, rather than improve their chances of killing others or being killed.

Having disclosed my bias, the irony that I see is the supposition (maybe incorrect) that many, if not most, of the members of the NRA have no difficulty with the unfettered discretion of the President in detaining "suspected terrorists" indefinitely and denying them many traditional rights. Apparently it is acceptable to incarcerate them on suspicion, but not deprive them of their right to bear arms.

Of course, the ultimate irony may occur when one of those "activist, liberal, soft-on-crime, legislating judges" that conservatives are always complaining about, comes along and agrees with them and declares the statute unconstitutional on the same grounds that they oppose it.

2 comments:

Mark Seecof said...

I think you have wrongly supposed that NRA members approve of the President detaining--without warrants, without charges, without due process--those who he claims unreviewable discretion to label "suspected terrorists" (actually, the President prefers the term "unlawful combatants").

It's true that NRA is particularly vocal about gun rights, but that's their job, their raison-d'etre.

NRA generally supports broad enforcement of everything in the Bill of Rights, and frequently fights alongside organizations like the ACLU when First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Tenth Amendment rights are in issue (though naturally-enough, NRA devotes its resources to cases with obvious impact on gun owners).

NRA (and GOA) opposed the Patriot II bill before Congress:
http://inthesetimes.com/comments.php?id=303_0_2_0_C

NRA opposes the stifling of citizen & interest-group political campaigning:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20030519-115203-6504r.htm

NRA has been a friend to every portion of both the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

If you have assumed that gun owners who disagree with you about gun rights necessarily disagree with you about everything else, I urge you to reëxamine that assumption.

As for the exact issue that caught your attention, note that gun owners oppose giving the Executive arbitrary discretion to restrict their rights--and by extension, anyone's rights.

If the proposal were to forbid, say, the sale of books and newspapers to suspected terrorists, would that be Constitutional? No, you might say, that would violate the First (right to publish/read), and Fifth (right to due process) Amendments. Well, even if you don't think the Second Amendment deserves the respect you accord the First, you should hardly pour scorn on the NRA for defending the Fifth!

H. Lee Sarokin said...

Dear Mark
Thank you for your comments. I had assumed (possibly incorrectly) that the NRA members were primarily conservatives and Republicans, and thus supported the administration. I am unaware that the NRA ever publicly or formally challenged the designation and detention of "enemy combatants". However, I hope that you will agree that it would be ironic to permit persons so designated to be detained indefinitely, but be free to possess weapons if they remain at large.