Too Far

Senator Marco Rubio (R, FL) has reintroduced his Terror Intelligence Improvement Act, his bill to allow Government to block suspected terrorists from obtaining firearms. This bill, far from improving anything, is a long step back from our rights under our Constitution. As Dana Loesch summarized it in her newsletter (behind a paywall after this month; subscribe now for a discount on her subscription price),

The bill would also provide more authority for law enforcement agencies to go after suspected terrorists, while safeguarding law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment and due process rights.

But, as Loesch goes on to point out, that’s internally contradictory. It’s simply not possible to restrict American citizens’ rights while protecting those same American citizens’ rights. A suspect is just that—a suspect, and so still innocent, regardless of suspicion.

Then, however, Loesch makes her own mistake.

If lawmakers want to stop suspected terrorists placed on a watch list from buying firearms they need to indict them.
I have no problem with this.

I do have a problem with that. All a prosecutor has done with an indictment is convince a secret group of men and women that he has probable enough cause to hale the indictee—possibly an infamous ham sandwich—into criminal court for trial.

The indictee still is innocent; he hasn’t been proven otherwise in that criminal court.

It’s true enough that we do restrict innocent men—we lock them up; we make them wear ankle bracelets; we make them pay a significant something of value to be released, under restrictive conditions, from jail pending trial; and so on.

But those restrictions are done in open court where the prosecutor must convince the judge that his proposed restrictions are warranted, and he must do so in the face of the defendant’s right to answer the proposed restrictions.

Simple indictment isn’t enough. If the suspected terrorist must be denied his 2nd Amendment rights (in the present context), let the prosecutor show in open court that his suspicion is well enough founded that his suspect should be locked up.

As a practical matter, too, that’s the only way to deny such a suspect firearms—outside of jail, there simply are too many means of access to firearms, legal or not.

Beyond that, there’s another, better, way to protect us from terrorists, whether those persons are armed or not. That is for Government to get out of the way of the first responders to any situation—us citizens who happen to be already on scene when the action goes down—carrying our own firearms.

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