The efforts laid dormant for a long time despite support from the Bush and Obama regimes. But the agenda received new life earlier this month when the Senate Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on two of Lautenberg’s bills. The first one, S.1317, would deny the Second Amendment rights of everyone placed on the government’s infamous “terror watch list.” The proposal also purports to grant wide discretion to the Attorney General in prohibiting gun sales. The other bill, S.2820, would require the Federal Bureau of Investigation to keep records of all legal gun purchases, creating a de facto national gun registry.
"At a time when the threat of terrorism is still very real, as we in New York City know all too well, I think it's imperative that Congress close this ‘terror gap’ in our gun laws and close it quickly," whined New York City’s famous anti-gun mayor Michael Bloomberg in testimony during the Senate hearing, his police commissioner in tow. He also asked Congress to essentially shut down gun shows by requiring that every seller conduct a background check.
Senator Lautenberg offered similar hysteria during prepared remarks about his legislation. “It defies common sense, but it is the law of the land,” he said, referring to the fact that “suspicious” people who have not been convicted of a felony or declared mentally incompetent can still legally purchase a gun. He also cited statistics from the Government Accountability Office showing that people on the government’s “lists” managed to purchase guns most of the time. Democratic Representative Peter King of New York joined Lautenberg speaking in support of the measures.
The GOP Senators who actually participated in the hearing made a mockery of the anti-gunners’ logic, but received very little coverage by the press. So did Aaron Titus, the Privacy Director for the Liberty Coalition, who also testified. "[S.1317] should be titled the ‘Gun Owners Are Probably All Terrorists Act,’ because it strips citizens of their constitutional right to bear arms without any meaningful due process,” he said. “And Senate Bill 2820 should be called, 'The National Firearm Registry Act' because it creates a national firearms registry. . . . a massive database of names and detailed personal information of each law-abiding citizen who purchases a gun.”
Gun-control foes also blasted the proposals. "Lautenberg calls this the 'terror loophole,' yet neither he, nor anyone else, can adequately explain how someone gets their name on a so-called 'terrorist watch list,' and there appears to be no way to get one's name off such a list once it is there,” explained CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb when the bill was first introduced. "In Lautenberg's world view, any American citizen interested in owning a gun is a potential terrorist. Would he add all of our names to such a watch list, thus stripping us of our Second Amendment rights, without first being charged, prosecuted and convicted of some crime? Probably he would.”
Gun Owners of America — likely the nation’s staunchest defender of gun rights — attacked the “blatantly unconstitutional bills” after the hearing and vowed to continue working to defeat them. “Frank Lautenberg has long been an anti-Second Amendment activist, so no one should be fooled by his latest assault on freedom. It’s not just suspected terrorists that Mr. Lautenberg wants only to disarm—if he had his way guns would be banned entirely,” wrote GOA Director of Federal Affairs John Velleco. “His strategy is to constantly nibble away at the Second Amendment until only the police and the criminals have guns. The intent of the Founding Fathers and the liberties of the people are apparently as meaningful to Lautenberg as is the oath that he swore to uphold the Constitution.”
Even the National Rifle Association, which is known among Second Amendment activists for “compromising” on important issues, blasted the proposals in a statement about the Senate hearing. It called the bills “patently anti-American and unconstitutional” while labeling Lautenberg a “fanatic.” It also pointed out the deception used by the proposals’ backers during the hearing.
But the mainstream press — predictably — rushed to support the constitutional travesties. “[T]he issue allowed Democrats to exploit the war on terrorism in a way Republicans have been doing for years,” celebrated Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank in a piece absurdly entitled ‘Terrorists who want to buy guns have friends on Capitol Hill’ with a sub-header reading: “Is the NRA a terrorist organization?” But even a simple Google search would have decisively revealed how terribly wrong it would be to paint everyone on the government’s watch list a “terrorist.”
One of the more outrageous additions to the list reported recently was a harmless 8-year-old Boy Scout named Mikey Hicks from Lautenberg’s state of New Jersey. Even the late anti-Second-Amendment Senator Edward Kennedy said he found himself on the list, eventually telling reporters that he had to enlist the help of the Secretary of Homeland Security to get him off. The process took several weeks, and he was a Senator. The list now has well over a million names on it, and details about how one gets on or off remain murky.
The “terror” lists were so sloppy that they have even been criticized by the Department of Justice itself. In 2009, the DOJ inspector general concluded many of the list additions "were processed with little or no information explaining why the subject may have a nexus to terrorism," also noting that the FBI “did not consistently update or remove watch list records when appropriate.”
These anti-gun efforts represent obvious violations of the Second Amendment. But equally heinous is the trampling of rights enshrined by the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment — “No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law….” Lautenberg and his anti-American associates should be voted out of office as soon as possible for constantly attacking the Supreme Law of the Land and the oath to uphold it. Americans who value their God-given rights to arms and to remain innocent until proven guilty should make his removal a top priority.
Alex Newman is an American freelance writer and the president of Liberty Sentinel Media, Inc., a small media consulting firm. He is currently living in Sweden and has spent most of his life in Latin America, Europe and Africa. He has a degree in foreign languages and speaks Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Italian and a little Swedish and Afrikaans. In addition, he earned a degree in journalism from the University of Florida, with emphasis on economics and international relations.