Lindsey Graham: Love The Gun, Hate The Suspected Terrorist

Gail Collins:

There seems to be a strong sentiment in Congress that the only constitutional right suspected terrorists have is the right to bear arms. “I think you’re going too far here,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday. He was speaking in opposition to a bill that would keep people on the F.B.I. terrorist watch list from buying guns and explosives.

Say what? Yes, if you are on the terrorist watch list, the authorities can keep you from getting on a plane but not from purchasing an AK-47. This makes sense to Congress because, as Graham accurately pointed out, “when the founders sat down and wrote the Constitution, they didn’t consider flying.”

[. . .] “We make it so easy for dangerous people to get guns. If it’s the Second Amendment, it doesn’t matter if they’re Osama bin Laden,” said Paul Helmke, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

To be clear, I disagree with the SCOTUS' Heller decision (Jeralyn agrees with it), so it is easy for me to support limiting access to guns for suspected terrorists. If you think it is a fundamental right, like say, Fifth Amendment rights (see Miranda), hesitancy in restricting that right seems logical. Too bad that hesitancy is not seen regarding the restricting of all fundamental Constitutional rights (Lindsey Graham again: "I am all into national security. ... I want to stop reading these guys their Miranda rights[.]”)

Speaking for me only

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    The terrorist watch list... (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by kdog on Thu May 06, 2010 at 08:50:40 AM EST
    correct me if I'm wrong, is not a "wanted" list, nor is it a "convicted" list...right?  So the way I understand protected individual freedoms, the people on the list should be allowed to fly and buy guns.  

    Now if you're on the watch list and are wanted for outstanding arrest warrants or convicted of crimes which prohibit you from traveling or buying guns as a condition of parole, thats a different story.

    I agree (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu May 06, 2010 at 09:16:29 AM EST
    But I think the Fifth Amendment secures fundamental individual rights and the Second Amendment does not.

    That is the difference to me.


    Interestingly, even (none / 0) (#13)
    by andgarden on Thu May 06, 2010 at 09:39:50 AM EST
    Stevens and Breyer explicitly accept that there is some kind of individual right conferred by the 2nd Amendment. Tactically, that's probably the right move, because taking the collective/states' right view seriously suggests some pretty unappetizing results (i.e., Montana forces all citizens to carry fully automatic weapons).

    The question now is what the scope of that right is. Stay tuned. . .


    OK, but (none / 0) (#14)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu May 06, 2010 at 10:11:01 AM EST
    even accepting that distinction, can you clarify why it's OK to restrict even lesser rights purely on the basis of secret government suspicion?

    I'm not a 2nd Am. fan and I'm not happy about the enshrinement of individual rights to guns of nearly any kind in any circumstances.  But I'm even less of a fan of restricting rights of people solely because the government thinks they might be up to something but isn't even sure enough about that to charge them with anything.

    Terrorist watch lists and the like that are used by the government to keep an extra bit of scrutiny on people are one thing (although I'm not entirely comfortable with that, either), but using them to ban people altogether from doing things anybody not on the suspicion list is free to do seems to me a fundamental violation of civil liberties.


    I think the distinction is this (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by CST on Thu May 06, 2010 at 10:26:41 AM EST
    "doing things anybody not on the suspicion list is free to do" - If you don't think anybody not on the list should be free to do it, you don't have a problem with those on the list not being free to do it.

    Excellent explanation, CST. (none / 0) (#16)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu May 06, 2010 at 11:08:57 AM EST
    I'm not a second amendment absolutist, although I do own some firearms. If it's legal for certain segments, ie, those who have not been convicted of felonies and/or are have not been adjudicated mentally incompetent, I wonder if people who haven't been charged with anything should be penalized.

    I'm not a lawyer, and not for everyone having firearms, bazookas, or dynamite, but I worry about a slippery slope here.

    It's an issue I vacillate on, I must say.


    Wow. (none / 0) (#19)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu May 06, 2010 at 12:56:27 PM EST
    I sure have a problem with that.  Was that meant as snark?

    no (none / 0) (#20)
    by CST on Thu May 06, 2010 at 01:21:06 PM EST
    what I'm saying is, if you are ok with restricting firearms for everyone, why would you have a problem restricting them for those on this list?

    For example, the D.C. handgun ban.  That would apply to everyone.

    Or to look at it another way, if it's not a fundamental right to have one, then you can restrict it for any number of reasons, just like we restrict flying or driving or owning a liquor liscence, or any number of things.

    It comes down to whether or not you think it is an individual's fundamental "right" to have one, or if it's something you have to earn the right to have.


    Nothing is absolute (none / 0) (#21)
    by jbindc on Thu May 06, 2010 at 02:22:54 PM EST
    Even the First Amendment has restrictions - you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater, you can't lie under oath, newspapers can't print lies, etc.  Just because it's a fundamental right doesn't mean it's a free-for-all

    that's a bit different (none / 0) (#22)
    by CST on Thu May 06, 2010 at 02:47:34 PM EST
    in that those things have to be proven to have happened for the right to be restricted.  I think gryfalcon's point is that these people have not been convicted or proven to do anything wrong.

    What I'm saying is if it's not a fundamental right, you don't automatically get it (unless proof exists otherwise where you shouldn't such as a conviction) - the onus is on you to proove that you are worthy to have it - such as a driver's liscence or a liquor liscence, etc...


    No (none / 0) (#24)
    by jbindc on Fri May 07, 2010 at 01:49:07 PM EST
    The state can pre-emptively forbid you to yell fire in a crowded theater.  If you choose to do it anyway, they can come after you.

    I have a problem with (none / 0) (#23)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu May 06, 2010 at 03:23:33 PM EST
    restricting the people on the list because they are there only because the government thinks maybe they're not nice people.

    I'm fine with using actual established status as the basis of restrictions-- felons, the mentally ill, etc.  I'd be happy to restrict non-citizens, for instance. (although given our culture, perhaps we'd do better to forbid citizens but allow foreigners to buy guns, but I digress...)  And I'd be a very happy camper indeed if hunting rifles were the only firearms permitted to anybody, and then only if you have a current hunting license.

    But singling out people the government has nothing but suspicion on?  Uh-uh.  No way.  The vast majority of those people have no clue they're on the list and no formal procedure they can go through to get off it.

    I can't even understand why there's a question about this.  I must be missing something here.


    You beat me to it, kdog... (none / 0) (#5)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu May 06, 2010 at 08:55:59 AM EST
    I was thinking the same.

    Glad I'm not... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Thu May 06, 2010 at 09:00:57 AM EST
    the only subversive thinking about that pesky freedom stuff while the nation pisses its pants:)

    Much as I hate (none / 0) (#7)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu May 06, 2010 at 09:01:52 AM EST
    to find myself on Lindsey Graham's side on anything, I agree with you entirely.  It's one thing, perhaps, to give these folks extra scrutiny before flying or purchasing a gun, but I don't see how you can justify prohibiting them from doing anything merely for being suspected of being in some way unsavory.

    I'd welcome seeing the argument for why that's justifiable from BTD or somebody else I respect, but that's how it strikes me.

    Particularly given the, let's say, untidiness of the terrorist watch lists.  If those people have done something wrong, arrest them and charge them.  But they shouldn't have their rights abridged just because the gummint has vague suspicions about their intentions.



    "Innocent until proven guilty..." (none / 0) (#8)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu May 06, 2010 at 09:04:08 AM EST
    It's not just a 20th Century buzz.

    "Suspicion"... (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Thu May 06, 2010 at 09:09:08 AM EST
    is the new "proven guilty"...get with the 21st Century gang.

    See my response to kdog (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu May 06, 2010 at 09:16:53 AM EST
    Why is the right to own guns (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by MO Blue on Thu May 06, 2010 at 11:33:47 AM EST
    the only constitutional right that must be preserved? No problem suspending or eliminating other rights without any type of due process except for this one.

    In other words, you are just like Lindsey Graham (none / 0) (#1)
    by Rojas on Thu May 06, 2010 at 07:01:31 AM EST
    only different.

    Not really (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu May 06, 2010 at 07:04:16 AM EST
    I believe the Fifth Amendment describes fundamental individual rights. Graham says he does too.

    Graham says he believes the Second Amendment describes fundamental individual rights. I strongly disagree.


    No person should conclude the people (none / 0) (#3)
    by Rojas on Thu May 06, 2010 at 07:52:47 AM EST
    referred to in the BORs are actual individuals....

    Seems there has been a long standing Miranda exception for DWI. Taken in that context, extending the exception to everyone else should just be a matter of time.


    One Might Also Think (none / 0) (#10)
    by The Maven on Thu May 06, 2010 at 09:13:18 AM EST
    that Sen. Graham, having served in the Air Force JAG Corps, would have a passing familiarity with battlefield conduct rules as codified in the Geneva Conventions.  As Collins quotes in her column,
    "Nobody in their right mind would expect a Marine to read someone caught on the battlefield their rights," Graham said.

    Unless we're leaping to the conclusion that anyone captured on a battlefield is, ipso facto, an illegal enemy combatant until proven otherwise (which seems to stand Geneva on its head), that Marine probably isn't going to get very far with his or her questioning.  Since Graham must know this (mustn't he?), it's pretty clear that he's simply advancing a straw-man argument in an attempt to score some cheap political points by implicitly painting Democrats and liberals as weak.  And if he goads the Administration into adopting another right-wing frame, so much the better.

    Constitutional questions aside (none / 0) (#18)
    by Ben Masel on Thu May 06, 2010 at 11:37:18 AM EST
    ANY regulations on firearms purchases, no matter how much you spend on enforcing them, will have minimal practical effect on someone bound and determined. There's just too much hardware already in circulation. You might, at most, triple what they'd have to spend to score on the black market.