The No-Fly List and the Assault Weapons Myth

Attempting in vain to convince thinking Americans that he’s serious about combating domestic terrorism, President Obama addressed the nation and said, in part:

To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security.

We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino. I know there are some who reject any gun safety measures. But the fact is that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies — no matter how effective they are — cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual is motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology. What we can do — and must do — is make it harder for them to kill.

The problem with the no-fly list is that many innocent Americans can end up on that list:

It’s probably America’s most controversial list. You can be put on it without your knowledge, and getting off it is extremely difficult.

It’s the federal no-fly list, a collection of names of people who are not allowed to board commercial flights into or out of the United States. According to leaked documents obtained by The Intercept, more than 47,000 people were on America’s no-fly list as of August 2013. That number reportedly includes 800 Americans, many of whom don’t even know they’re on it. The government sends no official notification to those on the list; many times, people don’t find out until they’re denied boarding at the airport.

A number of high-profile lawsuits have claimed the government unjustly added people to the list and blocked their efforts to have their names removed.  Last summer, a federal court ruled in favor of 13 people who claimed the government violated their constitutional rights to travel by placing them on the no-fly list. The government was ordered to tell the plaintiffs whether they’re on the list, spell out the reasons they are barred from travel, and to give them a chance to challenge the government finding.

The case was one of the biggest challenges yet to the super-secret government list, but the veil that shrouds the no-fly list still remains.

“There is this black box procedure which operates purely behind the curtains and no one is able to part those curtains and find out what really goes on,” airline industry analyst Robert Mann explained to Yahoo Travel.

The linked article lists eight ways you can end up on the list:

  1. Being suspected of direct terrorist activity (that one is obvious).
  2. Travel [frequent] to certain countries.
  3. Something you said in the past.
  4. Have a similar name to someone on the no-fly list.
  5. Not becoming an informant.
  6. Clerical error.
  7. Law enforcement issues.
  8. Controversial tweets.

Getting off the list is extremely difficult. Why, then, would we deny Americans their constitutional rights based on a procedure shrouded in such a veil of secrecy? If they are not American citizens, how about not letting them into the country? If they are American citizens, how about charging them with a crime before denying them their rights?

Moreover, the president believes that by targeting “assault weapons,” we can somehow discourage future terrorist attacks. As the New York Times notes:

OVER the past two decades, the majority of Americans in a country deeply divided over gun control have coalesced behind a single proposition: The sale of assault weapons should be banned.

That idea was one of the pillars of the Obama administration’s plan to curb gun violence, and it remains popular with the public. In a poll last December, 59 percent of likely voters said they favor a ban.

But in the 10 years since the previous ban lapsed, even gun control advocates acknowledge a larger truth: The law that barred the sale of assault weapons from 1994 to 2004 made little difference.

It turns out that big, scary military rifles don’t kill the vast majority of the 11,000 Americans murdered with guns each year. Little handguns do.

“Assault weapons” account for an extremely small number of murders, but the president wants to “make it harder for people” to get them. Why isn’t he focusing on handguns? To be certain, there’s no doubt that’s what he’d like to do, but political expediency comes before the facts with this administration. If the New York Times can finally admit the myth, the president should keep up with the Times instead of dwelling in his make-believe past. “Good guys” can stop terrorists so long as they have the means to do so. Targeting “assault weapons” does nothing to deter ISIS disciples. Citizens who can shoot back are an adequate remedy.

As we’ve said all along, Obama cannot really believe that his recommendations will work because he cannot tell us how his “solutions” will prevent the next attack. He can only hope that his dishonesty will convince a majority of Americans to adopt an incremental approach that will result in a total gun ban. Thus, the one who believes that it’s his responsibility to protect the American people believes that he is protecting them by taking their rights away.

If King Hussein were still alive . . .
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
  • LiberalNightmare

    Sounds kinda crazy until you remember that Obama is a constitutional scholar. I mean, if you cant trust a constitutional scholar, who can you trust?

    • No one from the Jackass party and entirely too few from the GOP.

  • Please demonstrate for us one instance in which the [P]resident and former Constitutional Law Lecturer has once while in office declined to enforce an action on Constitutional Principle. There are many demonstrable instances in which he has failed in his duty to uphold the laws.

    • Rdm42

      I would take issue with actively breaking and working to subvert the plain language of the constitution with full knowledge that that is what you are doing as merely ‘failing in your duty’. There are other names for that sort of action.

  • One of the unspoken purposes of the so called “Assault Weapon” ban was to keep affordable firearms out of the hands of the poor. Many surplus rifles that could have been imported from overseas were banned for example, for having “bayonet lugs”, despite a marked lack of drive by bayonetings in the U. S.

  • JWH

    More to the point, if you deny somebody a gun because they’re on the terrorism watch list, you’re violating his right to due process. On the other hand, if somebody is on the list and has bought a lot of guns lately, then maybe that’s grounds to investigate him a little more closely.

  • Commander_Chico

    December 7, 2015

    As far as I can remember, this is the first time anyone on Wizbang has ever complained about the blatantly unconsititional (at least for American citizens and residents) no fly list.

    Fuck, you had a couple of clowns advocating assassination for the exercise of First Amendment rights and throwing out the First Amendment altogether on Stalinist Rodney’s thread.

    • Are chicka puta’s panties in a wad?

    • Jwb10001

      So in Chico land the conservatives are at war with the first amendment? That’s about as clueless as one can get (see Loretta Lynch and damn near every liberal arts college in America)

    • iwogisdead

      I wonder why President obumble hasn’t issued a regulation doing away with the no-fly list. Or why the filibuster-proof Democratic Congress didn’t do away with it back in 2009.

  • Brucehenry

    All upset about this proposal to keep those on the no-fly list from buying guns. Not a word about the front-runner for the GOP nomination calling for a “ban on Muslims.”

    And Republicans always up on a high horse about who is and who is not “un-American.”

    • Commander_Chico

      I am still betting that Trump would be better than the rest of that crew except for Rand and Bernie, who have no chance. A pragmatist at core.

    • Rdm42

      I despise Trump as a candidate and don’t want him, but why not stop your willful misquoting and slanting and incomplete quoting, alright? You are smarter than that and know better.

    • Jwb10001

      You assume anyone here, other than the village idiot, supports Trump. I for one feel no obligation to comment on anything that idiot says.

    • Sky__Captain

      So you’re attempting to smear all Republicans for Trump’s comments.
      Cool.
      Can we now start smearing all Muslims for the events at Fort Hood, Boston, Garland TX, the Marine recruiting office shootings, and San Bernadino?

      No?

      Your hypocrisy is showing.

    • Sky__Captain

      Your 0bamaMessiah wants to deny a constitutional right to persons put on a list by a secret method with no due process involved.
      This makes the action unconstitutional. And quite un-American

      But you’re OK with that. Noted.
      Unsurprising, though.

      • Brucehenry

        Aaaaand again the idiot who calls himself “Sky Captain” thinks he has “won the debate” by using strawmen.

        I am not “smearing all Republicans” for Trump’s comments. However, I AM smearing anyone, Republican or not, who continues to support him after this latest bout of verbal dysentery. And I DO have a problem with people who pretend like he doesn’t matter — “Hey I don’t support him!” — after remaining silent or even defending all the previous bilge that poured from his mouth.

        The “Mexicans are rapists” thing? “Nah, he didn’t mean that!” The making fun of cripples? “Nah, he was just jerking around like a spastic, didn’t mean he was mocking the guy!” Lying about seeing “thousand and thousands of Muslims cheering in New Jersey”? “He must have conflated the videos from Gaza, or is just exaggerating, and anyway invisible Muslims DID celebrate!”

        Aaaand again, to the idiot who calls himself Sky Captain, I ask that you cite a quote where I state I’m “OK with that.” I’m not, because of the false positive rate. But I enjoy pointing out how upset y’all are with this proposal but are OK with the front-runner for your party’s nomination — who YOU WILL VOTE FOR IF HE IS THE NOMINEE — calling for a “ban on Muslims.”

        There’s a reason why the First Amendment was FIRST. You haters are so concerned with the Second you’ll support a buffoon who wants to ignore the First.

        • iwogisdead

          Just for purposes of discussion (since we like to drift off topic), would you be in favor of denial of 2nd Amendment rights to a person put on a no-fly list without Due Process if the false positive rate were not so high?

          • Brucehenry

            No. Don’t support this proposal and think it is silly and is a pander and an imaginary gotcha. I’m disappointed it’s getting this much traction.

          • iwogisdead

            I wonder why you said that you don’t support it “because of the false positive rate.” That struck me as an odd phrase to use, under the circumstances.

          • Brucehenry

            Yes, OK because of the false positive rate, among other things, like being unconstitutional. To be clear.

          • iwogisdead

            So, I guess, if it’s unconstitutional, why does the false positive rate make any difference?

          • Brucehenry

            First thing that came to mind. Jesus, give me a break. I saw Lindsey Graham mentioning the big false positive rate on TV on Sunday and it started me thinking.

          • Scalia

            Just for clarification, what is getting so much traction?

          • Brucehenry

            This proposal, this meme, “Why are terror suspects on the no-fly list allowed to buy guns?”

            It seems like pandering and a gotcha that isn’t to me. Ineffective, too. And unconstitutional to boot, apparently.

          • Scalia

            Thanks. So, this is one of those rare (sometimes medium rare) occasions where you agree with us and think that the president is wrong to make this an issue, right?

          • Brucehenry

            Yes. But I also question why y’all seem so outraged about a predictable political move and no one has mentioned the OTHER amendment a leader of a major political party has proposed tossing out.

            But hey, it’s your blog, I just comment on it.

          • Scalia

            Well, because he is the president. I think that’s a tad more important at this juncture. I get pretty “outraged” when people try to take my rights away. You? 🙂

        • Sky__Captain

          Bruce,

          You have valid points. Unfortunately you blew it with the personal attack. You lose the debate.

          Allow me to address your points.
          Your first post in this thread – the one I responded to – is this:
          ————————————–
          All upset about this proposal to keep those on the no-fly list from
          buying guns. Not a word about the front-runner for the GOP nomination
          calling for a “ban on Muslims.”

          And Republicans always up on a high horse about who is and who is not “un-American.”

          ————————————–

          – At no point to do address your view on the proposal. Given your leftist lean and your worship of 0bama, I made the error of presuming you supported the proposal.
          I was incorrect, and I apologize.

          – No, you did not smear all Republicans. I do however, interpret this as a shot at Trump supporters (or which I am not one). You also characterize Trump’s statements as a “ban on Muslims”. It clearly was not.

          – No, Republicans are not always “up on a high horse about who is and who is not “un-American.”” That’s what your 0bamaMessiah does on a regular basis.

          I also realize that you are incapable of civil discourse, but I do hope you have learned a lesson about losing a debate – which you did.

  • Walter_Cronanty

    I’m beginning to believe Professor Glenn Reynolds is correct when he states that the gun control/no-fly list issue is merely “stray voltage” cynically ginned up by President Pissy Putz to distract from his monumental failures, both foreign and domestic. “The tactic represents one more step in the embrace of cynicism that has characterized President Obama’s journey in office.” http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2014/04/barack_obama_trolls_the_gop_the_president_intentionally_baited_republicans.html

    Generally, his plan is so blatantly wrong that it has been panned by two of his most ardent hand maidens, Slate [“President Obama Just Offered Two Bad Ideas for Fighting Gun Violence – Cracking down on assault weapons and the no-fly list is wrongheaded and unhelpful”] and the LA Times [“Editorial – Should people on the no-fly list be able to buy guns? Yes.”].

    Specifically as to the San Bernardino massacre, and to my knowledge all other mass killings in the US since 9/11, his plan, if in place, would have had absolutely no impact on the massacre:
    1. The guns when purchased were legal under California’s strict gun laws [the Paris massacre was not averted even with stricter gun control laws]; and,
    2. The San Bernardino killers were not on the “no-fly” list, despite the fact that, as now being discovered, they had long been radicalized [“As the investigation has progressed, we have learned and believe that both subjects were radicalized and have been for quite some time, …” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/08/us/fbi-says-san-bernardino-assailants-were-radicalized.html?_r=1%5D.

    Thus, the question arises: why make the argument? The answer: it is better for Obama to be on the losing end of a well-publicized argument, than to have discussions about his many failures which led to the massacre.

    • Jwb10001

      It’s easy to blame republicans and the ever evil NRA for his inability to pass common sense reforms, His own policy failures as CIC on the other hand are much more difficult to blame on others.

      • Brucehenry

        What “common sense reforms” should he have been able to pass?

        • iwogisdead

          Whatever his common sense told him to pass, back when he had a sycophant, filibuster-proof Congress.

          • Brucehenry

            Which was never, since it included Baucus and Lieberman. The whole trope you guys keep repeating about “why didn’t he do it when he had a filibuster-proof Congress?” is baloney and you know it. The “super-majority” was a technical one.

          • iwogisdead

            You’re kidding, right? So, it’s all the fault of Baucus and LIeberman? Why doesn’t obumble blame them?

            You do understand the term “caucusing with Democrats” don’t you?
            obumble could get through the most contentious, controversial, divisive legislation of our lifetime, obumblecare, but he couldn’t get through “common sense” gun legislation reforms because he only had a “technical” super-majority?

            Big, bad Republicans.

            You’re better than this, Bruce. Really.

          • Brucehenry

            The most contentious yada yada legislation of our lifetime was watered down beyond recognition by blue dogs like Baucus and Lieberman. If Obama hadn’t had guys like them to contend with maybe we could have had better legislation. Of course you’d still be waaah-waaahing that it was “rammed down your throat” but at least it might not be quite as much of a monstrous giveaway to Big Insurance as it is.

          • iwogisdead

            Wow. obumblecare isn’t as much of a disaster as you wanted it to be?

            Are you one of those “occupy” dudes who want anesthesiologists to get $27K a year?

            Let’s back up–how is it that obumblecare was passed when “common sense” gun control legislation wasn’t? The blue dogs?

            I’m still trying to figure out why it’s the Republicans’ fault that a couple of radicalized Muslims who weren’t on the no-fly list shot up an office party in order to kill a Jew. Can you clarify that?

          • Brucehenry

            Well ya know Obama was elected on a promise to, among other things (like get out of Iraq), reform health insurance. He may have been in favor of tightening up gun laws but it wasn’t a major priority.

            You know how these things work, right?

            No I don’t want anybody to work full time and make $27K a year. $15 x 40 hours x 52 weeks is $31,200. (Ummm, LOL, just to be sure you get that some of these are jokes.)

            It’s ALWAYS the Republicans’ fault, whatever happened.

          • iwogisdead

            Well, that actually made me chuckle.

            By the way, when I’m going under for my heart bypass operation, I don’t want my anesthesiologist to be making the same as a McDonald’s line cook. Maybe you do, but I don’t.

          • Brucehenry

            Me neither but he doesn’t have to be a multi-millionaire either. And I want my McDonaald’s line cook to get paid enough by McDonald’s that she doesn’t have to get section 8 housing and SNAP to make ends meet.

          • iwogisdead

            I want the docs to be multi-millionaires. There’s college (Biology Major type college), Med School, and Residency. That’s 12 years going deeper and deeper into debt while working their tails off. I want the weak to be weeded out and I want the strong to be rewarded. And if you don’t think that people who shouldn’t be there are getting into residencies, you don’t know the world you’re living in.
            We can strive to pull the successful down, if you want. That’s not what I want.

          • jim_m

            Not watered down, but they tried to save it. The GOPoffered input and it was all ignored. It passed the way it did because 0bama wanted zero input from other people had he been a real man and been willing to negotiate them it would have been different and he would have gotten a bill that might actually work. Instead he got crap because that is what he is capable of producing.

          • Walter_Cronanty

            So, it’s the Ds’ fault, right?

          • Brucehenry

            To a large extent, yes.

          • No, it’s not better than that.

          • iwogisdead

            I’m always hoping.

          • And always disappointed in consequence.

          • No it’s what it really is.

          • jim_m

            Wrong. He chose to invest his political capital on the irredeemably flawed 0bamacare. If he wanted gun control he could have spent the effort there. There were lots of left wing issues they could have passed as well as bipartisan ones, but he invested the entire first term in 0bamacare and got little else accomplished. Some victory, a bill that has destroyed healthcare and set the country back decades.

        • Jwb10001

          I’m not commenting on the phantom “common sense reforms” liberals are constantly yacking about, I’m commenting on Obama’s constant blaming his fellow citizens for every failure of his administration.

  • Walter_Cronanty

    Obama’s speech where he read aloud from his teleprompter, yet said nothing, is going over really well:

    “Democrats are increasingly fearful that President Obama’s handling of the threat from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is becoming a liability for their party.

    Those fears have become more acute after Obama’s Sunday evening address from the Oval Office, where the president unveiled little by way of news or strategic shifts.

    “Weak and unclear,” Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf told The Hill, when asked for his reaction to Obama’s remarks. “What is the plan of action?”

    Sheinkopf added that, at this point, “any rational person would worry about his legacy, and any rational Democrat would worry about the Democrats being injured in an electoral setting.” http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/262396-obamas-isis-response-stirs-dem-angst-about-2016

    • Commander_Chico

      There is a threat, sure, but the same idiots that caused the problem (the destruction of Iraq) now want to invade again.

      No reason to freak out and set your hair on fire because of the kind of shoot-em-up that happens all the time in Madhouse USA.

      • Walter_Cronanty

        I haven’t freaked out and my hair’s not on fire. I just wish we had D in office like HST, instead of President Pissy Putz.

        • Commander_Chico

          President Pissy Putz has been drone-bombing the shit out of a lot of the Muslim world.

          Hasn’t nuked any cities yet, though. Is that what you mean?

          • To what practical effect?

          • jim_m

            He could nuke any foreign city you are currently in with my support.

          • Commander_Chico

            “I welcome their hatred.” – FDR

          • jim_m

            If it is Turkey I might be persuaded to be OK with that.

          • Walter_Cronanty

            He’s also been sending out sorties with 75% of the planes coming back with their ordnance. He didn’t started putting a hurt on ISIS’s oil tankers until Putin gave him a wedgey. His rules of engagement were such that nobody took him seriously. He’s dangerous, as enemies underestimate us.

          • Commander_Chico

            Well, maybe they don’t want to kill civilians or waste bombs.

            There is a lot of BS going on though. Putin bombing the tankers was great.

  • Walter_Cronanty

    The one name on the no-fly list known to have killed a US citizen.
    http://cdn.bearingarms.com/uploads/2015/12/ted_kennedys_car_at_chappaquiddick.jpg

    • Come now, he’s a good democrat these days…

      • Walter_Cronanty

        Julius Rosenberg would be a good democrat today….in both ways.

  • jim_m

    The dems are against freedom. They have recently come out dead against the 1st amendment both freedom of speech and religion (unless you are muslim). They are against the 4th amendment and due process. They are against the second amendment.

    Time to just say it plainly that the dems are the enemy of the US.

    • Sky__Captain

      Since 2009 I have held the position that 0bama is our first anti-American President.
      I have yet to see anything to change my position.

    • Commander_Chico

      You just wanted to ban CAIR, you freedom-lover, you.

      • jim_m

        CAIR has been linked to terrorist groups.
        You are a supporter of terrorism. But then we already knew that here.

        • It is an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood, itself a terrorist group.

          • Commander_Chico

            Sez who?

        • Commander_Chico

          So says who? Nutballs like Gaffney?

          In the last 100 years even the Communists or Nazis weren’t banned.

          • jim_m

            They weren’t murdering people in our streets

  • Walter_Cronanty

    I propose a far-reaching, total gun ban and mandatory, physical if necessary, confiscation of those weapons already in their hands……..: “Amnesty report: ISIS armed with U.S. weapons” http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/08/politics/amnesty-international-isis-weapons-u-s-/