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Standing Guard: The Terror Watch List

Saturday, August 4, 2007

STANDING GUARD

WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA Executive Vice President

"Thousands Wrongly Listed on Terror Watch List"--Newsday

"U.S. to Block Gun Buyers Tied To Terror"--New York Times

hose two headlines tell the story of deep media duplicity.

When it comes to well-placed fears over widespread errors, civil liberties abuses and injustices involving tens of thousands of innocent Americans whose names have been indelibly added to huge federal "terror watchlists," the mainstream media is on the job, on point. Their concern is well-founded.

Yet that concern evaporates when the Washington-based media enthusiastically reports those very same lists will be used to bar suspected "terrorists" from buying guns under legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. In their coverage of S. 1237, there is never a hint about deeply flawed, inaccurate lists, about the impossibility of ever getting off those lists or about the abuses by federal bureaucrats who manage the lists.

But in truth, Lautenberg's bill is not centered on "no fly lists," or "terror watch lists." It's far worse than that. Lautenberg's S. 1237 isn't about just "barring gun sales to terrorists." It is about giving a future attorney general of the United States--think, a Hillary Clinton administration--power to declare anyone to be a "prohibited person" on a par with a convicted felon or fugitive from justice, all done in total secrecy. The criteria for this edict--making continued gun ownership a federal felony--will be based upon some faceless bureaucrat deciding a person is "appropriately suspected" of some link to terror.

Easily, the worst part of this secret "star chamber" proposal to take away an individual's Second Amendment rights through a top secret declaration is the language that makes it impossible for anyone to mount a defense.

". . . [A]ny 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."

You won't see that actual language from the legislation quoted in the gun-ban national media. They don't want the American people to know what this legislation really does.

And what it does is violate the Constitution of the United States--not just the Second Amendment.

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says, in part, "No person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . .."

Yet this is exactly what Lautenberg and his gun-ban axis would do.

Again, let me repeat what this legislation actually does.

Lautenberg's S. 1237 gives the U.S. attorney general total discretionary power to make firearm possession or ammunition possession a felony for any individual American by a simple, secret stroke of the pen, with no due process whatsoever.

No due process. Deprived of liberty. Certainly. Deprived of property. Certainly.

Then there is the Sixth Amendment:

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense."

The inalienable right "to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him . . ."

Again, let me repeat the actual language of Lautenberg's S. 1237:

". . . 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." (Emphasis added.) That language is an affront to the Constitution, and it should be an affront to the media as well.

That's not how the Constitution works. If someone is a legitimate threat to America, they shouldn't be on the street in the first place. They should be facing charges in our criminal justice system.

I suspect that many reporters and editors in far corners of this nation have become victim to either lazy reporting originating in Washington, or bias at those same gun-ban media outlets. What has appeared in newspapers and broadcasts is boilerplate that

has not gone beyond the false claims issued in the Lautenberg press release. I believe that if many local reporters and editorial boards actually knew what this legislation does, they would be horrified. If the Right to Keep and Bear Arms or the Fifth and Sixth Amendments can be suspended with a bureaucrat's edict, then so can the First Amendment.

Copy this column. Give it to your local editors, and ask them to pull down the actual wording of Lautenberg's tyrannical legislation from the Internet. Then ask them to read the Bill of Rights. If they are honest, they will understand the terrible dangers this presents to all our liberties.

At the same time, write, e-mail and call your U.S. senators and representatives. Tell them to vote against this legislation in any form, as a stand-alone bill or as an amendment to other legislation. Or innocent people are going to be caught up in a nightmare from which there is no escape--our constitutional lifeline will have been forever severed.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.