Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Terror Suspects and Firearms

The New York Times is running a somewhat alarmist article, Terror Suspects Buying Firearms, Report Finds. The report says that

At least 44 times from February 2004 to June, people whom the F.B.I. regards as known or suspected members of terrorist groups sought permission to buy or carry a gun, the investigation found.

In all but nine cases, the F.B.I. or state authorities who handled the requests allowed the applications to proceed because a check of the would-be buyer found no automatic disqualification like being a felon, an illegal immigrant or someone deemed “mentally defective,” the report found.

Let’s dissect this. Firstly, we don’t know how large those terror suspect lists are. What we do know is that at least 80% of the people on them have never been convicted of anything: If they had been, they’d have had their right to bear arms stripped from them.

Next, its clear that terrorists do use firearms, and they’re a useful tool. From terrorist attacks at Ma’alot, where PLO terrorists took over a school and murdered the children inside to modern Al Qaeda tactics which can involve a pickup or SUV penetrating a gate to allow a truckfull of explosives to be brought to a target, firearms are useful.

Firearms are not the only useful tool. I bet that a fair number of people on the terrorist watch lists got drivers licenses, and perhaps even purchased cars or trucks. Cars and trucks are also essential elements of, you know, car bombings.

In response to the report, [NJ Democratic Senator Lautenberg] also plans to ask Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to assess whether people listed on the F.B.I.’s terror watch list should be automatically barred from buying a gun. Such a policy would require a change in federal law.

Why don’t we expand on this a little: Ban anyone on the list from buying a car. Ban them from a long list of schools where they can learn things, like how to fly a plane, drive a car, engineer a bridge. I’m confident that such people are also likely to incite to violence. Why not ban them from teaching positions, or revoke their right to free speech?

The terrorist watch lists include no due process at all. Should we limit the liberty of Americans because they’re suspected of a crime? Clearly not. What the hell is wrong with these people?