Senator Collins’s Proposed “No-Buy” List Is Even Worse Than Toomey’s

June 17th, 2016

The New York Times reports that Senator Susan Collins, a moderate Maine Republican, has proposed a different version of the no-buy list. It is even worse that the Toomey-Winkler version, that has apparently already been rejected by the Senate. Details are light, but here is how the Times describes it:

The legislation being drafted by Ms. Collins would bar the sale of guns to terrorism suspects who appear on either the government’s no-fly list or the so-called “selectee” list, in which individuals are subjected to additional security screening before being allowed to board an airplane.

I don’t see how this is any improvement. The government can indiscriminately add people to the “no-fly” list based only on a reasonable suspicion that the person poses a threat to aviation security. And Collins extols the proposal because it doesn’t even impose a stringent probable cause requirement (which is still too lax)!?

But while the gun restrictions proposed by Ms. Collins would target a narrower group of individuals, her measure does not require federal prosecutors to demonstrate “probable cause” of criminal terrorist activity required in an alternative to the Feinstein measure sponsored by Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican.

Democrats say Mr. Cornyn’s measure, which will also be voted on Monday, sets such a high burden of proof that it renders useless the underlying gun restrictions.

Collins actually said that “probable cause” is too high of a standard!

Instead, Ms. Collins has proposed an appeals process that would award attorney’s fees to anyone who successfully challenged the government’s effort to prevent the sale of a firearm.

“If you are either on the no-fly list or the selectee list, which is the list where you are subjected to additional screening before you are allowed to board a plane, then you would be prohibited from purchasing a gun,” Ms. Collins said.

She said she agreed that Mr. Cornyn’s measure set a standard too difficult to meet. “If probable cause is found then probably law enforcement could arrest you,” she said. “If you have got that, you are going to be arrested, unless they are leaving you out there in order to catch others.”

That’s the point! If there is evidence to charge you, then you should be charged. Constitutional rights cannot be willy-nilly held in limbo because the Attorney General has a hunch, which is all that reasonable suspicion requires.

It gets worse, if you have been on a watch list for five years, then your gun purchases will be flagged.

Ms. Collins and Ms. Feinstein have each added language to their proposals aimed at addressing the situation in Orlando, in which the killer, Omar Mateen, had been on a government watch-list but was removed before he bought his guns. Though they focus on different lists, their proposals would flag for the F.B.I. gun purchases by anyone who had been on the designated watch list within the last five years.

Now the government has every reason in the world to indefinitely keep U.S. Citizens (predominantly Muslim men) on these lists to hit the 5-year threshold. What kind of perverse incentive is this? The lists will continue to swell in size.

I still feel like I am living in a bizarro world: Democrats seek to eliminate the presumption of innocence by retracting the procedural protections of civil rights, blinded by their pursuit of the gun control agenda. Maybe Chuck Schumer will grow a beard like Mr. Spock, because we are now living in a parallel universe.