Right on cue, there it was: Hillary Clinton in her first debate with Donald Trump, or whatever that surreal blatherfest was the other night, calling for "common sense gun safety" measures, comprehensive background checks and barring the poor souls on the no-fly list their right to constitutional due process.
All of that, she says, would make us safer. Nonsense. The truth is none of what she wants will make us safer. None of it.
A problem in addressing questions about guns is that liberal gun control zealots, like Clinton, duck behind code words such as "common sense," "sensible," or "reasonable" rather than honestly stating their ultimate aim — disarming Americans. If it is a good idea, why not talk about it? Once in a while, though, one will stumble and out pops the truth.
Mary Bayer, for example, was a California alternate delegate for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. She goofed and answered an undercover journalist from James O'Keefe's Project Veritas who asked, "How do we ban guns? What do we have to do?"
"You got to say you want 'common sense gun legislation'," Bayer says in her videotaped response. "You say you want to ban guns altogether, that's just going to p— everybody off."
"You have to take that sort of moderate, 'we just want to have common sense legislation so our children are safe!' You say s— like that, and then people will buy into it."
Clinton wants Americans to buy into comprehensive background checks by the FBI's chronically underfunded, woefully inadequate National Instant Criminal Background Check System for all gun purchases That would end private purchases and sales and funnel all transactions through licensed dealers. It would have zero effect on violent crime and likely spark widespread noncompliance.
But who, gun banners ask, could object to keeping guns from bad guys or the mentally ill? For starters, anybody who remembers that past background checks data, despite specific federal law to the contrary and congressional intent, have, on at least three occasions, ended up in government files, creating de facto gun registration lists. There is but one reason for gun registration — confiscation.
Ultimately, such checks are unnecessary, burdensome and ineffective because they are far from universal, and they do little to keep criminals or the mentally ill from obtaining guns. A Justice Department study found about 40 percent of criminals get their guns on the streets; another 40 percent from family or friends; and, fewer than 2 percent from flea markets or gun shows. The mentally ill? Privacy concerns make them nearly invisible to background checks.
All that is bad enough, but the most onerous of Clinton's proposals is keeping those listed on this nation's secret and flawed no-fly and terrorist watchlist from buying guns, denying them due process.
About 81,000 people — the FBI says only 1,000 or so are "U.S. persons"- find themselves listed for unknown reasons. It could be errant Facebook posts or a run-in with some faceless apparatchik. Once listed, good luck getting your name removed.
The late Sen. Ted Kennedy and Georgia Democrat Rep. John Lewis both made the list, along with a retired U.S. attorney, a retired general and hundreds of other innocents, toddlers, dead people and jailed terrorists.
The list, mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, is a subset of the FBI's secret, consolidated federal Terrorist Screening Database that contains about 1 million names. Then, there is the agency's "TSA selectee list." It triggers closer scrutiny, but allows flying. It contains about 28,000 records. The FBI says fewer than 1,700 are "U.S. persons." Clinton et al., want to link those lists to NICS. The potential for abuse is incalculable.
That the system needs an overhaul is beyond argument; that Clinton would use it to violate the constitutional rights of everyday Americans is frightening, but she is not alone. Donald Trump during the "debate" mealy-mouthed he agreed with her, but would put in place a mechanism to help people get their names removed from the list. Blah-blah-blah.
The problem with any of Clinton's proposals? Not one would make us safer. As gun control true believers have piled on law after impotent law — there are thousands now — the United States has become markedly less safe. Guns? We have a people problem.
The real danger we face is that we live in a constitutional republic where our government incessantly tries to hatch gun registration schemes, disarm its citizens or deny them due process and keep their names on super secret, incredibly flawed lists for secret reasons kept secret forever.
We never will be safe as long as those who presume to lead us disrespect our rights and our Constitution.
Paul Jenkins is editor of the AnchorageDailyPlanet.com, a division of Porcaro Communications.
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