The “no fly, no buy” idea — a proposal to ban people whose names appear on the Terrorist Screening Center’s “no fly list” from purchasing firearms — has been around since at least 2009 when an act of that name failed in Congress.
It was an evil idea then and it’s an evil idea now. But it’s once again an evil idea on the march, backed by demagogues of both parties in Congress and by Republican and Democratic presidential nominees-apparent Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
What’s so evil about it? Let’s break it down into its constituent parts to find out.
First, “no fly.” The no fly list is a list of people forbidden to board commercial aircraft in the United States on the claim that they are suspected of terrorist inclinations. Who suspects them? Nameless bureaucrats. On the basis of what evidence? Only those bureaucrats know. Who’s on the list? Once again, only those bureaucrats — and people who are actually stopped from boarding aircraft — know.
There’s a name for a system under which your ability to travel can be abridged by force of law absent evidence, without charge, sans trial and conviction, without due process of any kind. That name is “police state.”
Secondly, “no buy.” I shouldn’t have to explain this one. If the original police state measure (the no fly list) is an evil idea (and it is), extending that evil measure into additional areas of American life is equally evil if not more so.
Make no mistake about it, the backers of “no fly, no buy” are a far greater threat to our lives and our liberty than any number of Omar Mateens. That they’re dancing on the graves of Mateen’s victims in pursuit of their goals is nauseating but not surprising.
The uses of the no fly list should not be expanded. Instead, the list itself should be deleted — consigned to oblivion — as soon as it exhausts its purpose as evidence in charging and convicting those who created and implemented it for conspiracy against rights under 18 U.S. Code, Section 241:
“If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same …. They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section … they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.”
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.