Talk about preventing “terrorists” from acquiring firearms is in the news again proving that everything old is new. With the shooting in San Bernardino in recent memory several politicians have taken the opportunity to introduce an amendment to a bill that would, amongst other things, prohibit people on the terrorist watch lists from buying firearms. This maneuver is being heralded as a tool to prevent terrorists from acquiring firearms but, as I noted back when this shit was being argued in 2009, the terrorist watch lists are secret lists. How do you end up on one of the lists? Who knows? It’s a secret. Are you already on one of the lists? Who knows? It’s a secret. All we do know is that the lists exist and a lot of names are on them.
Prohibiting people on the terrorist watch lists from buying firearms isn’t about prohibiting terrorists from buying firearms. It’s about removing due process before prohibiting people from buying firearms.
Unlike many people my support for due process isn’t dependent on whether or not an accused party shares my philosophical beliefs. I oppose any punishment issued without due process. Do you know why? Because not performing a full investigation and trial leads to shit like this:
A Guantanamo Bay prisoner locked up for 13 years has been found to be a victim of mistaken identity, originally thought to be a member of al-Qaeda.
Mustafa al-Aziz al-Shamiri was kept in a secret prison camp for 13 years without charge because somebody mistook him for somebody else. The only reason this is known is because some kind of hearing was finally held. In that hearing it was determined that he was just some low level schmuck and not the evil mastermind trainer he was originally sold as. Of course some may point out that he was still a fighter in al-Qaeda so his incarceration was justified. To that I would point out that no such fact was known because no investigation or hearing had been conducted. All we know is he was locked in a secret prison camp for 13 years based on accusations so weak no charges were even filed against him. That’s the kind of shit that happens when you don’t have due process.
I’m not going to mince words. Anybody who endorses their philosophical and political opponents being punished by governments without requiring any manner of due process is an asshole. They are what’s wrong with the world. They are the reason we can’t have nice things. I’d consider rounding them all up and putting them in a secret prison camp for the good of humanity but, you know, I believe in due process so I could never support such a thing.