Following recent mass shootings, Democrats have increasingly called for turning the no-fly list into a no-gun list. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, a Democrat, on Thursday vowed to take "common sense steps" to make sure people on terrorist watch lists like the no-fly list can't legally buy a gun.
But as Kevin Drum at Mother Jones explained, this seems like a potential violation of the Second Amendment and US Constitution:
It doesn't matter if you like the fact that the US Constitution and the Supreme Court have granted us all a right to own and carry firearms. They have. It's a right. And it shouldn't be taken away without due process.
As Drum wrote, the no-fly list is extremely arbitrary. People are added to it without even knowing that they're on the list. There's no transparent appeal process to the list, and there's certainly no trial before someone is added to it. All it requires is the government's "reasonable suspicion," which can be derived from social media posts, that someone poses a threat to commit certain kinds of terrorist acts, and a vague process that involves several federal agencies. (The latest count for people on the no-fly list is 47,000, although only 800 are Americans.)
That's why being put on the no-fly list is very different from being convicted of a felony or domestic abuse and then being prohibited from buying a gun. The closest analogy is denying a person a firearm because he's considered mentally ill, but even that requires someone be involuntarily committed to a mental institution or that a court or other legal authority classify someone as "a mental defective."
Democrats like Malloy have argued that their no-gun list policies would go hand in hand with a new appeals process. But there's a catch: Malloy said he "would rather the appeal be after a denial" before a gun is issued, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Would Democrats be willing to accept this with any other constitutional rights? Free speech? Religious expression? Probably not. Just imagine having to prove that you have the right to make a political statement or practice your faith through an appeal process instead of just assuming it's something you can do because it's constitutionally protected. There's no way that would fly, since it effectively flips the idea of innocent until proven guilty.
There's a strong case against the right to own guns, and the research is very clear that the abundance of guns in the US contributes to more gun deaths. But the Constitution protects gun rights. If opponents of gun rights don't like that, get the Supreme Court to interpret the Second Amendment differently, or pass an amendment. But ignoring constitutional rights goes against the foundation of US law.