Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Terrorism "suspects" and guns

Here's an interesting litmus test. If a person applies to buy a gun, and they are merely "suspected" of being a member of a "terrorist group", should they be allowed to buy the gun?


Terrorism Suspects Got OK to Buy Guns - NYT

(Tue Mar 8, 2005 06:55 AM ET Reuters)

This, and similar articles, are all over the world press today. The thrust is shock that these people were allowed to buy guns. And if you quickly read the article that's probably a fair conclusion, because you don't want to have guns in the hands of dangerous people, do you?

But let's take a closer look.

suspected members of terrorist organizations are not automatically barred from buying firearms.

Suspected members, meaning they are not proven to be members of these organizations.

And here's the grab for more power

FBI officials, the newspaper said, say they are hindered by laws that restrict the use of gun-buying records due to concerns over gun owners' privacy rights.

Maybe they are being 'hindered' for a reason? Such as, to protect the citizens right to privacy? But the way this is worded it tugs at you, the article sets this up as "these people are dangerous", when in fact it hasn't been proved they are dangerous, and later the plea is for more FBI powers to protect "us" from these "dangerous" people, despite the lack of proof of any danger.

UPDATE (Wed March 9, 2005): In Terrorists' right to bear arms (SALON.COM) a little more detail is given. The SALON.COM blog entry in turn refers to this NYTimes article: Terror Suspects Buying Firearms, Report Finds.

In particular what is hamstringing the FBI is a new requirement to destroy gun application records after 24 hours. Okay, now I can easily understand why they might feel hamstrung. Speaking for myself I'd want the government to keep careful record of gun ownership applications, and to make them public knowledge. Such record keeping would still fit within the second ammendment, as record keeping is not a limitation of ownership.