Senator Collins (Maine) has proposed the “Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act of 2016”. The full text of the act is not available, but there is a summary. In an attempt to prevent terrorists from using guns the bill would make it illegal for anyone on the “No Fly” list to purchase a firearm.
Like most Americans, I believe that the rights protected by the Second Amendment are not absolute and that terrorists should not be allowed to purchase firearms in the United States. For this reason, I support Sen. Collins’ proposal with a couple of necessary, common-sense adjustments.
First, the process for adding and removing people on the “No Fly” list needs to be clear, transparent, and completely objective. When we are denying people their fundamental and Constitutionally-guaranteed rights, it is important that the process be completely transparent and objective.
Secondly, additions to the “No Fly” list should not be done in secret. Before we restrict the fundamental and Constitutionally-guaranteed rights of anyone, they should have the opportunity to examine the evidence against them and mount a defense.
Thirdly, no one should be added to the “No Fly” list for anything less than a violation of the law. It is fundamentally incompatible with the rule of law to deny people their rights on the basis of suspicion or association. No one should be added to the “No Fly” list without first being convicted of a crime.
Finally, persons who have been convicted of a crime and added to the “No Fly” list should be removed from those lists when they have finished their sentence and are released back into the public. If the criminal justice system has determined that this person is no longer a threat to the public then there is no need to continue to restrict their rights.
Sen. Collins’ proposal has none of these safeguards which makes it not only incompatible with the Constitution, but, worse, an assault on due process, rule of law, and the fundamental rights of people who have never been convicted or even charged with a crime.