A fundamental cornerstone of our understanding of jurisprudence in America is the premise of due process- a belief that one is innocent until proven guilty.
This premise is costly. It has allowed murderers to go free from a lack of evidence. However, our steadfast reliance upon this premise has kept our imperfect nation afloat in trying times.
Democrat lawmakers, however, have pledged to abandon this premise in the pursuit of advancing gun control legislation that would prohibit citizens placed on the “no-fly” or federal terror watchlist from purchasing a firearm.
While few want terrorists to be armed, the aforementioned lists are arbitrarily-created lists which require no evidence of guilt for a citizen to be placed on the list. Mere suspicions alone are enough to place a citizen on the government’s watchlist and restricting those on the list from exercising their Second Amendment right is a direct inversion of the premise of due process as it denies a constitutional right to someone without ever having afforded them the opportunity to be confronted with evidence of their guilt of a supposed crime.
Still, Senate and House Democrats are working to advance legislation that would keep people on the blacklist from obtaining a firearm as some are insisting that their position is not in violation of our understanding of due process.
“I don’t think that innocent until proven guilty is the standard that applies here,” Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, said. “We’re talking about owning a gun, not being convicted of a crime.”
“Bear in mind that if you’re wrong in your suspicion and somebody doesn’t get a gun who would not have misused it, then what you’ve done is you’ve denied one person a gun. But if you’re wrong in your decision and you allow somebody to have a gun who misuses it, then what you’ve done in many cases is you’ve taken away people’s lives.”
Mr. Grayson side-stepped the obvious flaw in his thinking: the constitutional rights of one citizen (or a million) matter.
Further, opening the door to a system where the government may determine who can and cannot be allowed their constitutional rights without due process is a dangerously slippery slope.
Due process is not purely a term used to determine who should and should not be jailed. It is a term used to assess guilt and to provide for a defense of charges or allegations. Though none are calling for those on the watchlist to be placed in prison (yet), Democrats supporting the effort are calling for a restriction of civil liberties to citizens who have been found guilty of nothing and who may or may not even know that they are on the list.
Democrats still maintain, however, that the issue is purely black-and-white.
“Here’s what it boils down to: The presumption, I believe, should be in favor of keeping guns out of a person’s hand if they’re on the list,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin stated. “I think Republicans feel the opposite.”
More to the point, no Republican appears to be defending the right of terrorists to gain access to firearms. The Republican argument seems to center on a premise that due process must apply in order to revoke constitutional rights.
The Democrats’ embracing of the sanctity of the terrorist watchlist is a radical departure from their efforts of yesteryear. After the creation of such lists in the aftermath of 9/11, Democrats railed against the maintenance of such lists.
Far-left Senator Ted Kennedy, after being barred from flying in error, once ranted,
“How in the world are average Americans who are going to get caught up in this kind of thing, how are they going to be able to get treated fairly and not have their rights abused?”
Sen. Durbin has noted that the provision would allow people to appeal the inclusion of their names on the government’s lists. However, petitioning for a restoration of constitutional rights after having been found guilty of nothing is exactly the opposite of America’s premise of due process.