Rumor was enough to get you burned as a witch in Salem,
Massachusetts. It was enough to get you shot in Nazi Germany and Soviet
Russia. It's enough to get your head chopped off in parts of Iraq
infested with madmen claiming to carry out Allah's will.
And if U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has his way, it may be enough
to prohibit you from acquiring a firearm or federal firearm license,
especially if the Attorney General is as opposed to gun ownership as
Janet Reno was during the Clinton Administration, and as Eric Holder is
Fresh on the heels of a disturbing paper from the Department of
Homeland Security, characterizing gun owners as rightwing extremists,
on April 29 King introduced H.R. 2159, which he calls the "Denying
Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2009."
King, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security
Committee, describes himself as "a strong supporter of the war against
international terrorism, both at home and abroad," so without reading
the bill one might assume that H.R. 2159 is a legitimate effort to
clamp down on genuine terrorists. However, King and his bill's
co-sponsors—Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), Mike Castle (R-Del.), Jim Moran
(D-Va.), Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), Mark Kirk (D-Ill.), and Chris Smith
(R-N.J.)1—are extreme gun control supporters, and his bill is
intended only to give the Executive Branch arbitrary, unaccountable
power to stop loyal Americans from acquiring firearms. Here's how:
H.R. 2159 would give "the Attorney General the authority to
deny the sale, delivery, or transfer of a firearm or the issuance of a
firearms or explosives license or permit to dangerous terrorists. . . .
if the Attorney General determines that the transferee is known (or
appropriately suspected) to be or have been engaged in conduct
constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism,
or providing material support thereof, and the Attorney General has a
reasonable belief that the prospective transferee may use a firearm in
connection with terrorism."
H.R. 2159 does not, however, impose any requirements or limits
on the information the Attorney General could use to make a
determination, and it proposes that "any information which the Attorney
General relied on for this determination may be withheld from the
applicant if the Attorney General determines that disclosure of the
information would likely compromise national security."
In stark contrast to the scheme proposed in H.R. 2159, federal
law establishes guidelines for the nine categories of persons currently
prohibited from possessing firearms, and it protects the right of a
person to be told why he is prohibited. The latter is important because
a person who is not prohibited can be mistaken for someone who is, due
to incomplete or incorrect records in the FBI's database of prohibited
persons, or due to being mistaken for a prohibited person on the basis
of a similar name or other personal information.
trash bin of history is full of politically-motivated, authoritarian
abuses of peoples' rights. As King and his bill's co-sponsors have
shown, however, the concept behind the evil yet remains.