Anyone on the FBI terrorist watch list can be prevented from getting on an airplane, but he definitely can buy a gun, even an AK-47 assault weapon, without restraint say Congressional Republicans, according to a column by Gail Collins in today’s New York Times, where she says “There seems to be a strong sentiment in Congress that the only constitutional right suspected terrorists have is the right to bear arms.” She quotes Senator Lindsey Graham (SC, R), who spoke in opposition to a bill offered by Senator Frank Lutenberg (NJ, D) which would allow the government to stop gun sales to people on the watch list, just as it can already do to people with felony convictions.
Senator Graham’s Republican logic runs as follows: We can prevent terrorists from getting on airplanes because “when the founders sat down and wrote the Constitution, they didn’t consider flying,”but when it comes to keeping people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns, well, “I want to slow down and think about this,” Graham said, pointing out that “Some of the people pushing this idea are also pushing the idea of banning handguns. I don’t think banning handguns makes me safer.” What he really means, is: Don’t mess with guns or the National Rifle Association will skin my, uh, hindquarters, but airplanes are not mentioned in the Second Amendment, so we can restrict them. Writes Collins about Congress people, “….the subject of guns makes them act like a paranoid mother ferret protecting her litter.”
So we have the spectacle of Congressional Republicans complaining about reading his Miranda rights to Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square would-be bomber, and Republican talk show pundits howling to torture Shahzad and strip him of his citizenship—- but at the same time defending his right to have bought a weapon and munitions in order to carry out his car bomb effort. These are the very same people who are okay with the Patriot Act and data-mining of private communications, and okay with no-warrant wiretaps, and even with holding suspects forever without trial at Gitmo…. Behold the Republican Fungible Bill of Rights.
Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, himself pleaded for passage of Lautenberg’s bill, to no avail, although the Senators praised him for New York’s frustrating the Times Square bomber. In fact, the system worked very well, something that seems to irritate Republicans no end, since they are always looking for an excuse to accuse President Obama and Democrats of being soft on terrorism and namby-pamby soft-heart-soft-heads when Democrats insist on following the American legal system, and actually living the Constitution including the Bill of Rights when dealing with terrorists and suspected terrorists. How they dislike hearing that the system really does work—– not only did an smart civilian T-shirt vendor (who, I believe, was actually a Muslim himself) alert police to the smoking SUV, the security team connected the dots and captured the alleged bomber, but the alleged bomber himself, after being read his Miranda rights, is now talking with the FBI without being tortured. All this is upsetting to authoritarian-minded Republicans. Good grief, the system works!
Imagine how the Republicans would deal with a Democratic policy which blatantly said, “Terrorists are explicitly allowed to purchase however many weapons and munitions they want to because it is their sacred Second Amendment Right.” We’d never hear the end of it on Fox News, at rallies, probably even in sermons on Sunday, asking why Democrats hate America.”Be afraid, be very afraid of Democrats!”