House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) introduced HR 5611, the Homeland Safety and Security Act of 2016, on Friday, July 1st. This bill is an amalgam of items that are supposed to protect us from the Islamofascists. The findings in Sec. 2 of the bill explicitly mentions ISIS and al Qaeda.
This bill has the full support of Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) who said:
“While the enemy’s tactics are evolving, the Obama administration’s strategy to defeat radical Islamist extremism is not. We have to step up our game. This counterterrorism legislation provides new tools to protect our homeland, including a provision to prevent terrorists from buying guns. It is a responsible measure that confronts this threat while protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens. I look forward to a debate and vote on the House floor next week.”
I seem to remember it was not so long ago – like a week earlier – that Speaker Ryan said the Democratic sit-in was nothing more than a publicity stunt and that the Constitution must be defended. He went to say that they wouldn’t take away a person’s guaranteed rights without due process.
Sec. 5 of HR 5611 states:
SEC. 5. GRANTING THE ATTORNEY GENERAL THE AUTHORITY TO DENY THE SALE, DELIVERY, OR TRANSFER OF FIREARMS OR EXPLOSIVES TO KNOWN OR SUSPECTED TERRORISTS. (a) In General.--Section 922(t) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following: ``(7)(A) When the Attorney General is notified of a request to transfer a firearm or an explosive to a person who is being, or has been investigated during the previous 5 years, as a known or suspected terrorist, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, notify relevant Federal, State, or local law enforcement agencies or intelligence agencies concerning the identity of the prospective transferee. ``(B) Upon being notified of a prospective transfer of a firearm or an explosive to a person who is being investigated as a known or suspected terrorist, the Attorney General or the United States attorney for the district in which the licensee is located may-- ``(i) delay the transfer of the firearm or explosive for a period not to exceed 3 business days; and ``(ii) file an emergency petition in a court of competent jurisdiction to prohibit the transfer of the firearm or explosive, which petition shall receive the highest priority on the docket of that court. ``(C)(i) An emergency petition filed under subparagraph (B) shall be granted upon a showing of probable cause to believe that the prospective transferee will commit an act of terrorism, or is prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm under subsection (g) or (n). ``(ii) An emergency petition filed under subparagraph (B) to prohibit the transfer of a firearm or explosive may be granted only after a hearing-- ``(I) of which the prospective transferee receives actual notice; and ``(II) at which the prospective transferee has an opportunity to participate with counsel. ``(iii) In the case of an emergency petition filed under subparagraph (B) which is denied, the court shall require that the United States pay the costs and attorney fees of the prospective transferee.''. (b) Rule of Construction.--The amendments made by this section do not preclude the Attorney General from arresting and detaining a person, including a person described in section 922(t)(7) of title 18, United States Code, with regard to whom an emergency petition has been filed under such paragraph, if the Attorney General has probable cause to believe that the person has committed, conspired to commit, or attempted to commit an act of terrorism.
Sec. 5 is a variant of the Cornyn Amendment (S. Amdt. 4749) which failed to secure enough votes in the Senate on a cloture motion. Knowing that there are not enough Senators who would vote in favor of a cloture motion on this bill, isn’t this just as much a publicity stunt as the sit-in by the Democrats? Clearly not as visually pleasing to the media as the sit-in, it is still a stunt as it allows the Republican leadership to say, “We did something!”.
While Sec. 5 marginally protects due process, lawyers are expensive and there is no guarantee of winning so as to recoup your legal expenses. Moreover, what is to say that someone like Mike Vanderboegh was not put on the list as a domestic terrorist for his Second Amendment activism at the recommendation of the BATFE, the BLM, or even the SPLC. Heck, for all we know it could be all gun rights bloggers, podcasters, or Facebook commenters just because Loretta Lynch doesn’t like us.
No one knows how, why, or if they are on the Terrorist Screening Database. There are thousands on the list because they have a similar name, a letter or number was transposed in the original report, or for any number of errors. There are also truly evil and dedicated terrorists on the list who may or may not be under surveillance by the FBI, DHS, or some other alphabet agency. Larry Keane of the NSSF pointed out late last year that under such a law all it would take to confirm to a terrorist that he or she was under suspicion was to try and buy a firearm. The NICS denial would be all the confirmation that they needed.
HR 5611 has been sent to a number of House committees. That said, all indications are that it will be voted on sooner than later. I don’t care if the NRA was marginally OK with the Cornyn Amendment or that Donald Trump thought it might be a good idea. I object to secret lists, I object to any attempt to abridge enumerated Constitutional rights, and I object to Sec. 5 of this bill.
Call, email, fax, or write your House member and let them know that you oppose Sec. 5. As the Sultan Knish blog (thanks Kevin Baker for the link) said last year, you can’t have a truce with the Left. If you think that the Mike Bloomberg’s, Shannon Watts’, or Ladd Everitt’s of the gun control world are going to compromise with us, you need to think again.