I am very happy that the Democrats in congress have chosen to develop a spine on gun control, and are having a sit-in to protest Republican intransigence. John Lewis was inspiring.
Elizabeth Warren has been outspoken in her support.
Ashamed & disgusted that the Senate works for the @NRA & not the majority of Americans who support basic solutions to stop gun violence.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) June 20, 2016
But here’s the problem: they’re making a stand over a very bad bill, one that attaches restrictions on gun ownership to being on the homeland security no-fly list. That is a terrible, sloppy, lazy list that is more a reflection of false fears of Muslims than it is of credible concerns about terrorism. As the ACLU explains:
Because of the extreme secrecy surrounding the No Fly List, people generally only discover that they are on it when they are denied boarding on a flight – often very publicly, at the airport. The public does not know how many people are on the No Fly List, and the criteria for inclusion are so broad and vague that they inevitably ensnare innocent people engaged in First Amendment-protected speech, activity, or association. The process the government has established for people on the No Fly List to challenge their blacklisting is grossly insufficient and violates the U.S. Constitution’s due process guarantee.
So the Democrats finally scrape up the courage to fight back, they get the leadership of a towering figure in the civil rights movement…and it’s all to increase the authority of a secret enemies list that tramples on our civil rights? There’s something seriously wrong here.
Given that the majority of mass shooters are white men, this is unlikely to make a significant difference. I suspect that the Dems were trying to be cautious and bipartisan and make the change to the gun laws that would be at least somewhat acceptable to the Republicans to give it the best chance to pass. Except that it’s a completely futile effort, there are no such laws, and they might as well have gone for something effective.
Annie Bruce says
Pretty much where I am with this.
At a minimum, we need more transparency as to how people are added and removed, a clear appeals process, and some process to disambiguate if a person keeps coming up as a false positive.
Without those basic due process protections, using it for anything beyond maybe taking a closer look when a name comes up in an arrest report is just not acceptable to me.
slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says
Yeah, it’s for show. A natural response for Obama’s point that our laws are completely inconsistent. Why can people be denied airplane access yet allowed to buy whatever weapon they desire?
It seems like an easy problem to “fix”, but even there the Rethuglicans earn that slur nickname by blocking any change at all to the current non regulated gun purchases. Link ability to purchase guns with allowance to fly, THEN fix how that list is maintained.
This bill will not “solve the problem”, it is however a step in the right direction. Which the Rethugs will block vigorously.
@3: Two problems: First, what is the probability that anyone’s going to do anything about the no fly list any time soon? It’s had these problems for more than 10 years without any real attempts to reform it. Second, even assuming the no fly list has some validity, the demographics of plane hijackers and mass shooters are significantly different. Even if passed, this bill won’t help reduce the number of mass shootings.
And John Lewis himself was once on the watchlist.
Ronald Couch says
I’d thought the same thing, but let’s face it: it is reality TV and nothing else. Just like Obama appointing a conservative to the Supreme Court, the goal was to have the republicans block it. In essence we live in the Kardasian’s world.
On the other hand I’d be willing to bet that a majority of Americans are just fine with the no fly list just the way it is. So ………………
slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says
QFT. Agreed. That’s why I said it was for show. To show how awful the NRA agenda is and how deeply the (R)’s are in the NRA pocket.
anyway, I’ve given up. expecting any substantive change is optimism disconnected from reality. I just like shows of effort.
slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says
ummmm the only way to fix the no-fly list is to make it prerequisite for buying to oh so sacred guns everybody wants to buy. All errors of the NFL (coincidence?) will quickly get fixed.
that’s even worse.
can’t fix one clusterfark with more farks
As has been pointed out, the US decided after Newton that shooting children was okay. So, yeah, optimism is not warranted.
I’m of two minds on this. I support any efforts toward effective gun control. However the no fly/terrorist watch list is so screwed up that Cliven Bundy wasn’t on it.
There were two other, minor but more sensible, gun-control measures on the list as well. One for expanding background checks, and one to require the Surgeon General to submit annual reports on the effect of gun violence on the public health, which would not coincidentally require research on gun violence that is currently banned.
I would hope at least some Democrats would have the good sense to vote NO on the no-fly-no-buy bullshit.
But the real truth is none of these would pass. The objective is to get it ON RECORD which politicians voted against them. Which might be a useful bludgeon in the upcoming election, since a great many representatives are up for reelection.
I’m with Betty Cracker here:
I don’t think that baby should be allowed a gun.
FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says
Sadly, I don’t think the Dem’s action have anything to do with honestly attempting to make anyone safer. I think this thing is entirely about political capital. If the bill passes they can play it up as a big win over the GOP. If it doesn’t, expect them to use that to rattle the Repub’s base: “Your leaders want TERRORISTS111!1!1 to have guns.”
It’s a win/win situation for the Dems and I don’t think they care how it turns out.
When John Lewis sat in a lunch counter, it was not because he was hungry.
Of course the Congressional sit-in is theater, or a stunt, or whatever you want to call it. It is, as his hashtag says “good trouble.” This is not the moment to kvetch and nitpick. It’s a time to cheer!
Don’t care. Average folk rarely end up on the list and those who do have an appeals process unavailable to the dead.
Chris J says
I tried to write a comment more supportive in the other direction, but no. PZ and other folks are right; this wasn’t a great choice of bills to take a stand on. A sit-in just for the universal background checks would be just as dramatic, perhaps even more-so given the broad public support and the fact that even getting a vote on that measure required a sit-in.
Were the Democrats worried that Republicans would capitulate too quickly if they asked for too little?
Digging a bit, it looks like there’s a history of Democrats supporting the no-fly list as “one of our best lines of defense.” So they may just be operating on an opinion formed without listening to constituents and the ACLU.
I’m gonna cheer them on, though, because it’s not the worst thing in the world and there are some other solid provisions. Plus, getting any sort of even-remotely helpful gun control legislation even voted on would be a step in the right direction. I may have a letter to send to my state reps and Nancy Pelosi after this, though…
As was mentioned above, the sit-in isn’t to get this bill passed. It’s to reduce the Republican majority in the House, or even to get it to change hands, in this election. And it’s going to be quite successful at that goal: they need to strike while the iron is hot, right after Orlando, and they need to do something as public and long-lasting as possible, to rile up the vast majority of the public before the election. They need to give Clinton and all the Democratic House candidates something to castigate their opponents with. It’ll be very effective at that, since it’s quite unlikely that they’ll even get a vote in the House, and it won’t pass even if they do.
The best thing that could happen is if the House members who are sitting in are all arrested.
Very good point. The Democrats are making a huge mistake by making this a terrorism issue. Luckily there are other good bills that Americans can call congress to support, like universal background checks.
What do you mean “average folk”? Why aren’t the plaintiffs in the ACLU’s suit against the list “average folk”?
A Masked Avenger says
I don’t think that’s how justice works. Very few black people, as a percentage of the black population, are actually murdered by cops while unarmed and breaking no laws, for example. But “Don’t care, average black folk are rarely murdered by cops” is not an acceptable response.
A friend of mine ended up on the no-fly list. He also ended up unemployed, because flying places for meetings was part of his job. Getting off was a nightmare.
I’m with PZ and other commenters on this: leveraging a civil-rights-destroying thing like the watch list is a bad way to address the problem; it won’t actually address the problem, since almost no actual mass shooter has ever been on that list; and it invites the expansion of these secret enemies lists rather than their elimination.
When the Free Speech Movement was sparking a nation-wide debate in 1964, there were people kvetching and moaning that the activists were doing it wrong, and anyway hypocritical because they were preventing other peoples access to public spaces.
Which side are you on?
@petesh, the side that isn’t furthering the Islamophobia leading to the harassment and murder of muslims around the world.
Chris J says
The one trying to be genuinely supportive and not just caught up in tribalistic “them bad, us good” mentalities.
If you’ll notice, our problems aren’t with the activists or their methods, but with one specific goal they’re making the center of the protest. Unless you think the goal doesn’t matter at all, you should hopefully be able to appreciate the distinction. Even if you don’t agree that the goal is a problem.
My second-hand anecdote: I know a Brian Young, and while not on the no-fly list, until he got a redress number he got interviewed and searched before every single flight. As presumably all other Brians Young in the US do, because there was an IRA terrorist with that name.
In an ideal world, once the list began restricting gun rights, there would be Republican support for reforming, reducing, or eliminating the list altogether. Unfortunately I think you’re right that it would more likely just lead to these lists metastasizing into other areas.
While I don’t like the narrative it’s embedded in, I don’t particularly care about the actual impact of the measure. Unlike ability to travel, gun ownership is not a fundamental right and should not be a political right, and I so I don’t think it’s a meaningful difference to go from “You can’t board an airplane” to “You can’t board an airplane or buy a gun”. If we can get more due process to get off the watch lists out of the deal, it’s a net benefit.
To be fair, any gun control measure other than banning and then buying-back/confiscating handguns will not make a noticeable dent in firearm homicide rates. And then there’s the whole matter of firearm suicides, which would probably drop some if we got rid of handguns, but some will switch to long guns; people don’t tend to switch to non-firearm methods if they don’t have gun access, they get inconvenienced into staying alive instead.
I rather like what Rep. Tammy Duckworth did. She sat on the floor, took her prosthetic legs off and hid her cell phone in one leg so it wouldn’t be removed under the rule of “no cell phones on the House floor when the House is in session.” I guess she is a knowledgeable fan of Douglas Bader…. I hope she does extremely well in her race to become a US Senator.
The fact that suspected terrorists can buy guns legally is ludicrous, but it’s a symptom of the fact that it’s too easy for everyone to buy guns. Making it harder for everyone to buy guns would avoid blowing up Due Process, and it’d be more effective.
One thing I like about this move is the fact that it forces the Republicans to make an impossible choice: Pro-gun or Anti-terrorist. They can cry all they want that Democrats coddle terrorists, but Democrats are the only ones lifting a finger to stop terrorists from arming themselves.
It’s too bad the bill is garbage.
@23: You are seriously misreading what is going on. The goal of the protest is not the bill, it’s the issue. Sorry, but the negative comments here immediately remind me of Phil Ochs’s “Love me, I’m a liberal” (I cried when they shot Medgar Evers …) though I always preferred Dylan’s take:
Now, I’m liberal, but to a degree
I want ev’rybody to be free
But if you think that I’ll let Barry Goldwater
Move in next door and marry my daughter
You must think I’m crazy!
I wouldn’t let him do it for all the farms in Cuba
Life and politics are both absurd, and you are either with John Lewis or you’re not. I’m still with him.
@petesh, seems to me that a lot of people think that targeting “terrorists” wouldn’t bother anyone Outside of a Small Circle of Friends.
From all the statements on the issue, including Lewis’s speech, the sit-in is not just about this one bill, but multiple bills and in general for “reason-based” gun control measures.
One thing I clearly recall on my first tript to CENTCOM HQ in Qatar, watching a General making incessant telephone calls to DHS to get US CENTCOM and US SOCCENT personnel off of the no-fly list so that they could deploy to defend this nation against AQ and from Taliban interference with efforts against AQ.
Fine, obscure names like John and Joe Smith are on that list, yeah, *really* common names, plus known terrorist names, even if they’re as common as John Smith in their originating culture. It’s an administratively created list, with no court of law utilized and essentially, no recourse or respite from any grievances one has with one’s government for being placed incorrectly upon that list.
Now, regardless of how one feels about it, the courts have an extremely, well over a century and change of case law, complete with mention of the right to keep and bear arms as an individual right in Dred Scott in 1857, hence giving context on what was previously little commented upon:
“It would give to persons of the negro race, … the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, … the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.”
So, the courts have long held the opinion that was based upon an amendment and tradition of the individual right to keep and bear arms is an enumerated right. A right with limitations by the state and even in Miller, by class of firearm at the federal level.
This effort to take away an enumerated right, based upon suspicion and an administratively created list isn’t new, it’s several years old now. I’ve opposed it each and every time its reared its ugly head for one reason: It turns rights, which may only be curtailed by a court of law, via prescribed law for reasons of public protection into privileges, which may be administratively revoked.
When you turn one right into a privilege, you turn all rights into privileges.
Motor vehicle operation upon a public highway isn’t a right, it is a privilege and as such, can be administratively revoked and no court of law may needs be involved. Flying to one’s destination isn’t considered by the courts to be a right, after all, there are cars, trains, buses and boats/ships.
So, should we shutter the right to speak or a specific religion or irreligion next, all via an administrative list? Perhaps next, we’ll have random search administrative lists and after, summary execution lists. All are fundamental enumerated rights that we enjoy immunity from revocation of, save for good reason within the law, by order of a court of law.
We turn rights into privileges in the most Orwellian of ways.
One can’t endanger our very way of life and Constitution in more of a fundamental way.
I think this is less about getting a bill passed and more about showing the true colors of the Republicans. They actually stormed in, pushed through a vote that would make it easier for investors to screw clients (attempting to override a presidential veto, which failed) then went on vacation two days early, cancelling full work days scheduled today and tomorrow.
This is about attempting to regain the House so they can pass actual bills in the next administration.
Usernames! (╯°□°)╯︵ ʎuʎbosıɯ says
I, for one, am pleased as punch they want to attach Ammosexual’s fetish toys to the abomination of the NFL.
For one, I believe it will break the logjam of NO GUN RESTRICTIONS, EVER, FOR ANY REASON by a tiny bit. It is a foot in the door to getting actual useful legislation passed.
It also is a way to get the utterly ineffective NFL thrown out, and perhaps (be still my heart!) to dismantle the TSA while we’re at it. Both of these waste money and make us less safe.
no bill is up for vote as far as I know there are some that are being put forward for debate and consideration.
Make a show out loud and public a sit-in works for me if it gets coverage. Well it seems that it is self covering it with cell phones. Another indication that the monopoly in coverage of issues is coming apart which is a positive step in and of itself regardless of any direct results on these particular proposed bills.
As an aside I think it may be helpful to realize that the support of the NRA is broader then just the gun manufacturers, there are a significant number of people who hold a Federal Firearms license allowing them to by and sell lots of guns they far outnumber manufacturers they do not all own a normal gun store they may just your next door neighbor they make money doing this, some only enough to support there gun hobby they contribute money to the NRA they vote what the NRA recommends.
The majority will never be a real threat to law and order and they get easily threatened by the leadership of the NRA’s propaganda which by extension threatens their representatives and elected officials
while that does sound plausible, How do you know that?
It takes a serious dose of cognitive dissonance to look at those who object to putting people on an arbitrary secret government list to deny them rights and think: you know what, these suckers remind me of “Love me I’m a Liberal.” Also you may want to reread qwints.
Mike Smith says
Pretty much everyone has missed this, but the Democrats actions are completely disgusting, counterproductive and was the finally straw. I’m not bothering to vote now. I’m not going to legitimate a group of assholes who use the pain and blood of my people to further extraneous political ends, which not incidentally erase us from our own tragedy. Look, if the Democrats wanted to force the issue and get the Republicans on record opposing other forms of sensible gun control, fine go ahead. Or if they wanted to get them to on record opposing basic protections for queer people, again fine go ahead.
Instead the Democrats, playing realpolitik with queer pain, turned an attacking on queer people into a horn of dilemma by validating the completely moronic idea that the shooter was mainly (or exclusively) an Islamic terrorist. It’s the very move that a couple of people have praised above; by pushing the the no gun no fly list connection the Democrats are trying to create fodder to run “so pro-gun, they can’t bring themselves to be anti-terrorist” ads. Apart from any concerns about due process, the bulk of the Democrats have conceded that Orlando was about terrorism*. WHICH IS BULLSHIT! The right has been spinning, spinning, spinning the story away from their moral culpability for strengthening heterosexism. I didn’t need Democrats doing the work of the Republicans, I don’t need allies stabbing me in the back.
The story of Orlando is not terrorism. the story of Orlando is not the insane easy access Americans have for guns. The story of Orlando is the queer experience is so hated in America that 102 people can be shot, 49 killed, and even the so called liberals will not recognize the elephant in the room.
*we can debate whether hate crimes like the Orlando shooting should be called terrorism regardless of any connections to, say, ISIS but how the term is used currently such attacks are not covered.
For 30 and 38
“so I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here”
The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs) says
@#38, Mike Smith
Democrats adopting a right-wing playbook, de facto ceding the moral debate to the Republicans by arguing from the same premises, and then making a fake, showy stand which accomplishes effectively nothing but looks “liberal”? Gosh, who could ever have expected that? Wait, wait, I sort of recall hearing that before… oh, right, it was the strategy of the DLC, you know, the group that Bill Clinton was the head of before he was president, and Hillary Clinton was a member of?
Face it: when the Democrats chose Hillary Clinton, they removed any doubt that this was the utter limit to which they would be willing to pursue any sort of progressive ideal: an unworkable, useless bill which won’t pass, which throws a lot of people under the bus, and which would only serve to enlarge the security state if it somehow were to be pushed through. Look for more of this in the future; there are any number of issues they can take a false stand on to look good without actually doing anything to actually solve any problems.
I only have vague memories of reading that about guns in particular. I’ve seen studies of it for bridge nets/guardrails (installing them leads to a decrease in overall suicide rate). There’s probably data from Australia.
There’s reason to believe that this holds across all methods: suicide is largely impulsive – lots of (most?) people who attempt end up never succeeding.
This is why we must be Bernie or Stein or Bust!