Washington D.C. (The Gaslamp Post) – In the midst of the national debating and political theater surrounding the topic of gun control in recent weeks, something happened in the Senate last Tuesday which just about no one noticed. According to the Government Printing Office (thanks for the tip Adam!), the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2011 is now back but in a 2013 version.
The bill, first introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is supposedly aimed at keeping guns and explosives out of the hands of – wait for it – terrorists. While the name of the bill itself sounds richeous and well intentioned, one must keep in mind that there was a reason that it died in the Senate 2 years ago.
According to GPO.gov, the bill’s purpose is:
To increase public safety by permitting the Attorney General to deny the transfer of firearms or the issuance of firearms and explosives licenses to known or suspected dangerous terrorists.
Yes, you read that correctly; the United States Attorney General will be able to personally deny a firearms transfer, or the issuance of a firearms license (for an FFL) or a license to possess explosives. While firearms transfers and FFLs are one thing, explosives aren’t usually something that the average citizen is able to walk into a store and purchase.
In addition to that, for the U.S. Attorney General to be able to impede a firearms transfer to an American citizen, while our present one is alleged to have illegally moved thousands of firearms to Mexican drug cartels is laughable. Now while the irony of this presumptuous bill escapes no one I’m sure, the devil is in the details.
According to S. 34 (co-sponsored by, as no surprise; Charles Schumer(D-NY); Dick Durbin(D-IL); Mrs. Dianne Feinstein(D-CA); Harry Reed(D-NV); Mrs. Barbara Boxer(D-CA); Robert Menendez(D-NJ); Sheldon Whitehouse(D-RI); Carl Levin(D-MI); and Mrs. Kirsten Gillibrand(D-NY)) the U.S. Attorney General will have the authority to deny anyone whom he “appropriately suspects” of being a terrorist or having terrorist affiliations. According to 922(A), the Attorney General has discretion to deny any firearms transfer.
Hope you haven’t made any serious sounding comments in social media lately. Recent Army training manuals have referred to Tea Party members and constitutionalists as potential terrorists.
“The Attorney General may determine that–
“(1) an applicant for a firearm permit which would qualify for an exemption under section 922(t) is known (or appropriately suspected) to be or have been engaged in conduct constituting, in preparation for, in aid of, or related to terrorism, or providing material support or resources for terrorism; and
“(2) the Attorney General has a reasonable belief that the applicant may use a firearm in connection with terrorism.”; (2) in section 921(a), by adding at the end the following: “(36) The term `terrorism’ includes international terrorism and domestic terrorism
“Reasonable belief” is lawyerspeak for what a lawyer may believe or be convinced of. It is purely subjective and a matter of perspective.
So what’s wrong with that? It’s a good thing that we want to keep dangerous things out of the hands of terrorists, isn’t it? One must keep in mind that the term “reasonable” was used in determining who would be, could be, or should be; a terrorist.
Secondly, keep in mind that this term will apply to anyone who may have threatened their neighbor during a heated argument, argued with their ex, or had one too many and said some things that they may not necessarily have meant. Law enforcement likes to charge people with “making terroristic threats” more and more these days, based solely on words that escape their mouths.
Ever said something hostile that you later regretted? Guess what, they now have a “reasonable belief” that you could potentially be a terrorist! How so, you ask? Because they invented this latest bogus charge of “making terroristic threats.”
If that isn’t bad enough, in the event that a suspected or reasonably believed American is denied a firearm, the Attorney General is under no obligation to inform the denied individual as to why they were denied. In fact, the bill allows the Attorney General to hide behind the guise of “National Security.”
If a law-abiding citizen with no criminal history is denied the purchase of a firearm because the NICS told the Federal Firearms Licensee to deny them, the Justice Department doesn’t have to tell them why.
“However, if the denial or revocation is pursuant to subsection (d)(3) or (e)(1)(C), any information upon which the Attorney General relied for this determination may be withheld from the petitioner, if the Attorney General determines that disclosure of the information would likely compromise national security.”
On the up-side, the American citizen does have the right to petition the Justice Department in the event that they feel that they were unjustly denied. Believe it or not, many people have had to sue the federal government in order to have their 2nd Amendment rights reinstated (how messed up is that?), so this is nothing new, just more repressive.
According to the bill, anyone denied is supposed to receive a notice from the Attorney General and at that time and from that point have a narrow window in order to get in front of a judge to plead their case. Can you say guilty until proven innocent?
“(b) In any case in which the Attorney General has denied the transfer of a firearm to a prospective transferee pursuant to section 922A of this title or has made a determination regarding a firearm permit applicant pursuant to section 922B of this title, an action challenging the determination may be brought against the United States.
The petition shall be filed not later than 60 days after the petitioner has received actual notice of the Attorney General’s determination under section 922A or 922B of this title.
60 days is all the American citizen has in order to fight for their 2nd Amendment rights, and that is providing that the Justice Department sees fit to send them a letter informing them that they were denied. Wouldn’t they already know that they were denied a firearm? They were there at the gun store when they told them that the FBI / BATFE denied them!
Even then, the Justice Department won’t tell the American citizen why it was that they were denied; they again pull the “national security” card. Even if what proof that the Justice Department / U.S. Attorney General provides the judge is shaky, they are still under no obligation to show all of their cards!
Where are my lawyer friends out there? Disclosure? Discovery? Courtroom procedure, anyone?????
Apparently the federal government has to adhere to neither of these.
The court shall sustain the Attorney General’s determination upon a showing by the United States by a preponderance of evidence that the Attorney General’s determination satisfied the requirements of section 922A or 922B, as the case may be.
To make this showing, the United States may submit, and the court may rely upon, summaries or redacted versions of documents containing information the disclosure of which the Attorney General has determined would likely compromise national security.
Upon request of the petitioner or the court’s own motion, the court may review the full, undisclosed documents ex parte and in camera. The court shall determine whether the summaries or redacted versions, as the case may be, are fair and accurate representations of the underlying documents.
The court shall not consider the full, undisclosed documents in deciding whether the Attorney General’s determination satisfies the requirements of section 922A or 922B.”.
So in other words, the court must review whatever documents that the Justice Department gives them and go from there. The court cannot demand any more than the Justice Department gives them because anything other than what they gprovide as far as evidence is concerned, may be a threat to national security. Technically the federal government could put anyone on the “terrorist” list and then deny them their 2nd Amendment rights without due process.
Sure there would be a court case, but when one side is permitted to hold back evidence which could exonerate an innocent American citizen, there is no justice. The way that the law is written, any American could be subject to this kangaroo-court process for little or no reason.
How is this not tyranny?
Once it is said and done, even if the American citizen wins, and the case from the Justice Department is deemed unfounded; the law-abiding citizen is still out all of their funds used to purchase legal council! There is no retort for the citizen whom was denied!
With this much red tape enveloping and hindering Americans in their pursuit of maintaining their Constitutional rights, how is this going to prevent individuals from turning to the black market for their firearms?
Black market gun-running already exists; how is more legislation acting as roadblocks and hindering law-abiding citizens going to do anything but expand that industry. Furthermore, when loosely termed definitions are used in order to determine who is a terrorist and who isn’t, how it is that the rule of common law can be enforced while it is nothing more than a matter of speculation?
This is nothing more than incremental withering away of the American’s 2nd Amendment rights, and an invention of a new class of criminals who up until now, were law-abiding citizens. How it is that a criminal government has the gall to treat someone with suspicion while not being proven to have done anything, and then not be held accountable once their actions are not deemed founded?
America, legislation like this is poison! It is because of tyrannical bureaucratic nonsense like this, that the U.S. Congress gets nothing done.
Not passing bad legislation is not the same as congressional obstructionism. When bad legislation is the only thing hitting the floor, maybe a do-nothing Congress is what is essential.
America, I cannot stress enough how urgent this issue is. You must contact your elected employees in Washington and speak out against this sort of nonsense.