At first thought, letting those suspected of terrorism to purchase firearms legally sounds insane. When it comes to the United States, citizens on the no-fly list are still able to obtain firearms legally.
In light of the recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino, many around the country have called for people on the no-fly list to be barred from buying guns. It seems very reasonable to keep people with suspected terrorism ties from buying guns, but the issue may be more complicated than it appears.
According to The Intercept, in 2013, there were more than 47,000 people on the United States’ no-fly list with 800 of those people being Americans. The report also says that many of the people on the government’s no-fly list don’t even know that they’re included on the list.
Further, The Intercept report claimed that nearly half of those people included in the no-fly list have no known connection to a terror group. The government doesn’t have to have solid facts to back up placing someone on the list. If they have reasonable suspicion that someone is a threat, they can place the person on the list.
“If you have a name which is similar in sound or spelling or in phonetical interpretation to someone who probably legitimately should be on the list, you’re at risk for finding yourself on the list.”
An even more unjust way of getting placed on the watch list are clerical errors. In 2004, an FBI agent accidentally placed Rahinah Ibrahim, a wheelchair-bound Stanford doctoral student, on the no-fly list. This mistake led Ms. Ibrahim to be detained and denied a flight from San Francisco to Hawaii and ultimately led to a long, expensive lawsuit.
Although all Ibrahim wanted was to clear her name, according to the report by Wired which detailed the case, the government wanted to cover the whole thing up. The Obama administration sought to dismiss Ibrahim’s case on the basis of protecting national security secrets. Eventually, Ibrahim won and the government admitted that she was placed on the list due to an error.
“Right now, people on the No-Fly list can walk into a store and buy a gun. That is insane. If you’re too dangerous to board a plane, you’re too dangerous, by definition, to buy a gun,”
As The Hill reported, Republican Senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio argues that the no-fly list is a flawed system with innocent people being placed on it.
“These are everyday Americans that have nothing to do with terrorism, they wind up on the no-fly list, there’s no due process or any way to get your name removed from it in a timely fashion, and now they’re having their Second Amendment rights being impeded upon,”
Those that oppose barring no-fly listers from buying guns have suggested that there should be more due process before the government revokes an American’s rights.
An attempt to close the “no-fly list loophole” in the Senate was stopped by Republican opposition. Some believe that President Obama is currently drafting an executive order that would stop people on the no-fly list from buying guns legally.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]