Conservatives Discover One Right Accused Terrorists Should Have

by Jonathan Chait | May 6, 2010

Yesterday Congress held hearings on a bill to prevent people on the terrorism watch list from purchasing guns. This is actually a highly controversial bill. Dana Milbank and Gail Collins were on hand to make Lindsey Graham look ridiculous. Milbank:

"If society decides that these people are too dangerous to get on an airplane with other people, then it's probably appropriate to look very hard before you let them buy a gun," countered Bloomberg.
"But we're talking about a constitutional right here," Graham went on. He then changed the subject, pretending the discussion was about a general ban on handguns. "The NRA -- " he began, then rephrased. "Some people believe banning handguns is the right answer to the gun violence problem. I'm not in that camp."

The thinking isn't very far from the surface here, is it? Graham tries to think of a reason to oppose the bill, begins by blurting out his actual reason -- "NRA" -- then changes the subject to more comfortable ground.

Collins adds:

The terrorist watch list is huge, and some of the names on it are undoubtedly there in error. The bill would allow anyone denied the right to purchase a firearm an appeal process, but that would deprive the would-be purchaser some precious gun-owning time. Before we subject innocent Americans “to having to go into court and pay the cost of going to court to get their gun rights back, I want to slow down and think about this,” said Graham.

There's a pretty hilarious double standard here about the rights of gun owners. Remember, Graham is one of the people who wants the government to be able to take anybody it believes has committed an act of terrorism, citizen or otherwise, and whisk them away to a military detention facility where they'll have no rights whatsoever. No potential worries for government overreach or bureaucratic error there. But if you're on the terrorist watch list, your right to own a gun remains inviolate, lest some innocent gun owner be trapped in a hellish star chamber world in which his fun purchase is slowed by legal delays. If we have to endure terrorists mowing down civilians in the streets, then that's the price we must bear to guard against the potential for any accidental inconvenience inflicted upon a gun owner.

A lot of right-wingers see an armed citizenry as the ultimate protection against government tyranny, but many of them see to be embracing a vision in which it's the only protection.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/jonathan-chait/conservatives-discover-one-right-accused-terrorists-should-have