Democrats play election-year politics in sabotaging ‘no-fly, no-buy’ measure
Senate Democrats continued insistence on attaching an expanded background check measure to any prospective bill banning those on the “no-fly” terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms could, once again, put Republicans in a position of explaining why they won’t support a poorly crafted knee-jerk proposal created in the emotional aftermath of a horrific mass-shooting.
Following four days of heated debate in the wake of the Orlando Pulse shooting that killed 49 people on June 12, including a 15-hour filibuster by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), the Senate agreed early on June 16 to consider two bills this week that call for barring suspected terrorists from buying guns.
One bill, proposed by anti-gun zealot Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), would give the Department of Justice the right to ban gun sales under a “reasonable suspicion” that the prospective buyer is participating in or funding a terrorist plot.
A counter bill sponsored by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) would also ban alleged wanna-be evil-doers on the watchlist from purchasing firearms, but requires a review of that prohibition within 72 hours of being denied a firearms purchase. During that three-day span, law enforcement officials would need to perform an investigation and convince a judge not to allow the person to buy a gun.
Of course, this is nothing new. Similar Senate proposals went nowhere in December with the Democrat “full-stop” proposal failing to pass by 15 votes.
Compounding the certainty of stalemate, Democrats resubmitted the same weary, hopelessly flawed, repeatedly defeated measure extending background checks on all gun buyers everywhere all the time.
Democrats, riding a national wave of anger and emotion, know perceived inaction could hurt Senate Republicans in November. Therefore, it is more important for them to convince the TV-educated that they are “doing something” while actually doing nothing more than playing politics in a time of war following a terrorist attack.
“If Democrats are actually serious about getting a solution on that issue, they’d join us,” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R- Ky.), Senate Majority Leader, told the Associated Press. “This is a ready-fire-aim exercise where it’s unfortunate we likely will not come to a place that matters at all to the American people, but we’ll create a little bit of a show and move on down the road.”
“The question is, do people really want to solve this problem, or do they want to keep an issue alive for a November election?” said Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) on June 16 in a Wall Street Journal article by Gerald F. Seib.
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FIX THE LIST
NRA not alone in challenging Constitutionality, practicality, of secret ‘no-fly list’
Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump last week said he would meet with the National Rifle Association to discuss ways to block people on terrorism watch or no-fly lists from buying guns without diluting gun owners’ rights.
While that has some Second Amendment advocates questioning Trump’s commitment to protecting their rights — he supported the “assault weapon” ban during the Clinton Administration — the widely circulated belief that the NRA is a lone voice in questioning the Constitutionality, and practicality, of “the list” is more media obsession that accurate.
The no-fly list has alarmed civil libertarians, been the subject of numerous lawsuits and is opposed in its present form by many advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
According to the Department of Justice, there are more than 1.1 million people on the FBI’s Terror Screening Center’s secret list, established by the Bush Administration in 2003. Included within the master list, are two separate lists: the terrorist watch list of more than 400,000 names and the no-fly list, which prevents more than 16,000 people from boarding planes in the United States.
Standards for inclusion on the ‘no-fly list’ are unconstitutionally vague, and innocent people are blacklisted frequently without a fair process to correct government error, writes ACLU National Security Project Director Hina Shamsi.
In fact, you can be put on the list without notice, without any reason why, without knowing who put you on the list. To many, the use of secret lists to deny an American citizen a fundamental individual right is not the way to fight terrorism. In fact, doing so means terrorism wins.
Therefore, if the no-fly list was competently managed and the names on it not secret, it would be more acceptable to civil rights groups such ass there NRA and ACLU. Being clandestinely blacklisted with no opportunity to challenge the designation is inherently unfair and not the American way.
This list compiled by WND.com’s Chelsea Schilling last December is a good example of why using a “secret” no-fly list to deny Americans a fundamental individual right is wrong:
— Sen. Ted Kennedy could not purchase airline tickets and was stopped three times at airports in 2004 because his name was on a list.
— Fox News contributor Steve Hayes was stopped boarding a jet in 2014 because he was on the list after he traveled to Istanbul.
— Dozens of children have been stopped boarding planes because their names were on the list, including the infamous case of an 18-month old yanked off a JetBlue flight in 2012.
— Grandmothers and nuns are on the list, including a 71-year-old Milwaukee nun who was denied boarding a plane in 2003.
— In 2006, a U.S. Marine had his trip home to Minneapolis from Iraq delayed when his name appeared on the list.
— Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was stopped between 35 and 40 times after his name appeared on the list in 2003.
— Federal air marshals have been prevented from boarding jets.
The NRA has accepted Trump’s self-invitation to meet with them, NRA Institute for Legislative Action Director Chris W. Cox said in a lengthy statement.
“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,” Cox said. “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.
“If an investigation uncovers evidence of terrorist activity or involvement,” he continued, “the government should be allowed to immediately go to court, block the sale and arrest the terrorist. At the same time, due process protections should be put in place that allow law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a watchlist to be removed.”
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Florida Democrats launch pre-election ploy to politicize Orlando attack
With U.S. Senate Democrats undermining efforts to create an an effective ‘no-fly list’ that actually prevents wanna-be terrorists from purchasing firearms by purposely excluding due process, Florida Democratic lawmakers are following in goose-step by calling on Gov. Rick Scott to hold a special session to encode the same flawed measure sure to be rejected by Republicans as November elections near.
A proposal submitted June 14 would require the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct an extensive background check on individuals who have been on watch lists before they can legally purchase or own firearms.
According to the Associated Press, a special session could only be held if either Scott wants one, or Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli — both Republicans — agree to hold one.
Neither is likely to happen. Scott told CNN that the state’s response to the June 12 Orlando Pulse shooting won’t involve reviewing state gun laws. Gardiner and Crisafulli told the AP on June 14 that they have no plans to call a special session to address gun laws.
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IN THE COURTS
Potential case could keep the Second Amendment earthbound
Austin Haughwout, the Connecticut teenager who gained Internet notoriety and the scrutiny of the Federal Aviation Administration by posting videos of his homemade armed drones, could be at the center of a precedent-setting legal battle regarding how far the government can go in regulating personally owned unmanned armed aircraft.
Last July, Haughwout, a Central Connecticut State University engineering student, posted a YouTube video showing a garage-built drone carrying a semi-automatic handgun he remotely fired several times in woodlands near his home. The video received almost 2 million views within a week, and led to an FAA investigation into whether Haughwout had violated aviation law.
Last December, he uploaded another video of a self-built drone, this time with a flame thrower that proceeded to roast a turkey.
In both instances, local police said no municipal or state laws were broken, but the FAA continued to probe. Haughwout and his father refused to comply with an FAA subpoena demanding photographs and video, receipts for the flamethrower, YouTube audience, advertising, and monetization information, and other evidence that could be used against the student and his family in court should the FAA decide that a crime was committed.
According to Jason Koebler of Motherboard.vice.com, the FAA’s motion to compel the Haughwouts to comply with the subpoena is making its way through U.S. District Court. While the Haughwouts have not been charged with a crime, they’ve hired attorney Mario Cerame to represent them in what could be, according to Koebler, “the most important drone law case ever litigated.”
Cerame defense will be that the FAA is not authorized to perform a search and seizure of his clients’ belongings — which is what the subpoena essentially authorizes — because drones are not technically “aircraft,” therefore, it does not fall under the agency’s purview.
Former FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Office Director Jim Williams told Koebler that the FAA may not have much of a case because, in his view, there aren’t any federal regulations against arming a drone.
“When the guy did his first stunt with the pistol, we looked at it and said, ‘Hey, do we need to go after this guy?’ and the experts at HQ said, we don’t really have anything because he was on his own personal property, he was flying low to the ground in a self-built model aircraft,” Williams told Koebler. “He was firing into the ground and it was a remote area and he appeared to have provisions to protect people on the ground.”
After Koebler posted the video of his flame-throwing drone roasting the family’s Thanksgiving turkey In December, the FAA put out a fact sheet for state and local legislators stating “prohibitions on attaching firearms or similar weapons” on unmanned aircraft are “traditionally related to state and local police power.”
Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont and Wisconsin have passed drone legislation that contains at least some limits on armed drones. But, as Williams told Koebler, Congress hasn’t given the FAA authorization to specifically prohibit armed drones.
However, the way the FAA is apparently attempting to gather evidence to mount a case against Haughwout, it appears as if the agency is laying the ground work to be more aggressive in imposing federal regulations and restrictions on what, if any, weapons a drone-flier can legally install onto unmanned aircraft.
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