In 2002, I created a fictional character for the purpose of commenting on governmental excess and hysteria in regards to national security during a time when any such comments made overtly were almost a lynching offense. It was my fear then that legitimate concerns about security and terrorism could translate to illegitimate attempts to deprive American citizens of their rights, using exaggerated security statements to prevent anyone from mounting serious opposition. Seven years later, it seems that not much has changed.
Representative Peter King, R-NY, has introduced a bill, dubbed The Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2009, that would authorize the Attorney General to deny gun sales to known or suspected terrorists. Note the italics in the previous sentence and then tell me if you don't think the representative in question has an amazingly appropriate name.
The Supreme Court gave a ruling last year which confirmed what many of us already knew, that gun ownership is an individual right not bound exclusively to any military or militia service. That being the case, how do we justify the removal of a right based on nothing more than a suspicion? We don't! It is in violation of everything America stands for. This is not Philip K. Dick's The Minority Report. We do not enforce legal sanctions based on suspicions. At least in Dick's story the Powers That Be claimed to have some infallible method of equating suspicion with act. We don't even have that. We have Janet Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security releasing watch lists that equate anyone they don't like with suspicion of terrorism.
It is worth pointing out that, in The Minority Report, the Powers That Be were wrong. That was, in fact, the whole point of the story and the reason for the title. [You'll have to read the story for yourself, or at least watch the movie, which does give a decent version.] Despite their supposedly infallible method, they were making mistakes and punishing people without cause. How much worse would it be when we don't even claim to have such a method?
I'm not even going to jump off the paranoid springboard here and claim that this is a backdoor attempt to remove firearms from American citizens. It is unarguably the case that such a law could be used for that purpose and should be argued for that reason even if no other, but I don't think that is the actual intent here. The intent seems to me to be nothing more than is stated, preventing terrorists from acquiring guns. Good intent, however, does not excuse lousy implementation. This bill would do no more to keep guns out of the hands of bad guys than any other law has done and it would go a long way toward making things difficult to impossible for people who have not earned any such restrictions.
I understand the ideas and I understand the fears, but laws should not be about ideas or fears. They should be about results, and the only results a law like this can produce are such that everything in the American spirit should be rebelling against. There is no A for Effort in government. You either succeed or you fail and this bill has abysmal failure stamped all over it. If Representative King truly wants to keep Americans safe, he needs to go back to the drawing board and try again.