This past week, gun owners, veterans, and many others were incensed by a report released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that identified broad categories of people as potential terror threats based on their political beliefs, including a support for the Second Amendment.
The report, entitled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment" was started in 2008 and completed and released recently. Its purpose was to highlight "rightwing" extremists who could become or be planning acts of violence; but the inclusion of groups as potential threats based simply on their political views has created a significant backlash.
In one passage, the report stated, "The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks."
The report went on: "Proposed imposition of firearms restrictions and weapons bans likely would attract new members into the ranks of rightwing extremist groups, as well as potentially spur some of them to begin planning and training for violence against the government. The high volume of purchases and stockpiling of weapons and ammunition by rightwing extremists in anticipation of restrictions and bans in some parts of the country continue to be a primary concern to law enforcement."
In other words, DHS is concerned that people are buying firearms and ammunition out of concern that the administration will live up to its campaign promises.
In a passage that clearly shows antagonism to those who oppose anti-Second Amendment policies, the report says: "Weapons rights and gun-control legislation are likely to be hotly contested subjects of political debate in light of the 2008 Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller in which the Court reaffirmed an individual's right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but left open to debate the precise contours of that right. Because debates over constitutional rights are intense, and parties on all sides have deeply held, sincere, but vastly divergent beliefs, violent extremists may attempt to co-opt the debate and use the controversy as a radicalization tool."
How insulting is it to claim that gun owners can't be trusted to oppose gun restrictions without turning to violence?
The report's characterization of so many groups of Americans as potential terrorists, based on their legitimate political beliefs, is an outrageous attack on free political discourse in America.DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has now apologized, as she should have, for the inclusion of returning veterans in the list of potential threats. But she has yet to make any apology to the millions of law-abiding American gun owners who have also been unjustly maligned.