Via email Mac asks:
If those on the no fly list are to be prohibited from buying guns, what about those they already own? When will the government come for them?
I don’t know the answer. I suspect that is a constitutional infringement the government doesn’t want to cross right now.
The National Counterterrorism Center runs a central repository of more than 1 million people called Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE. The TIDE database, which includes about 25,000 Americans as of 2013…
An unclassified subset of the TIDE database is made available to law enforcement as part of the Terrorist Screening Database. That database contains biographical and biometric information about potential terrorists and can be accessed by local, state and federal law enforcement officials who don’t have security clearances. As of 2011, that database was said to contain about 420,000 names, according to the FBI.
The Transportation Security Administration receives an even smaller list of people subject to travel restrictions drawn from the Terrorist Screening Database. In addition to the 16,000 names on the no-fly list in 2011, another 16,000 were on the selectee list. The selectee list doesn’t prevent individuals from flying but subjects them to extra scrutiny.
About 25,000 Americans on the terrorist watch list. According to the US Census Bureau in 2012 there were about 220 million people in the U.S. 21 and over. This means they suspect about one out of 9,000 people of being terrorists. And about one out of every 7,000 people on the lists associated with commercial flight. That isn’t as big a list as what some people have been saying.
The practical problem I see with the government attempting to “come for the guns” which the people on the lists already have is that how do they know which of the people on the list possess guns? If they don’t know which people actually have guns they would have to search their homes and any other place those people might have stored the gun(s). They can’t get a search warrant unless they have probable cause of a crime being committed, a description what it is they are looking for, and where they believe to find the object. “Guns in the home or car or storage unit because they are on this list” probably is going to have the judge frowning at you rather than signing it.
But the issue of blocking sales to people on this list is a different issue because it doesn’t involve the 4th Amendment. The 2nd Amendment is considered by many people to be a second class (if it is recognized at all) right. The 4th Amendment has a process in place which attempts to protect people from having this right infringed.
A comparable process to that proposed to the purchase of a gun being subject to a background check which involves one or more secret government lists would be to subject sales of religious and political books to the same background checks. Of course most people would claim it’s not the same thing at all. My response is, “You are absolutely correct. Ideas are far more dangerous than guns. Haven’t you hear of all the people murdered by those inspired by The Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf, as well as the The Holy Qur’an and The Holy Bible?”
But to answer Mac’s question I think it will be quite a while before they start collecting those guns already in the hands of people on the lists. But I think it is a great question to ask of those advocating for restricting sales to such people. If they don’t bring up the 4th Amendment issues themselves then you bring them up. And then follow up with the 1st Amendment issues if such a background check were required for reading materials or church attendance.