Thursday, May 03, 2007

Lautenberg outfoxes Gonzales on guns; Freeper meltdown ensues

I have to say that Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is a genius.  He has created an extraordinary wedge to use against the Administration and its gun-crazy Republican allies with S. 1237, introduced on May 1st, officially (and brilliantly) titled the "Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2007"

The bill essentially gives the Attorney General the direct authority (above and beyond the Brady Bill) to prevent those on terrorist watch lists from purchasing firearms.  Gonzales and the Administration, in their quest for ever-increasing power, have offered no objection to the bill's contents.

This leads to a triple-bind for the GOP--if they support the bill, they do the following:

1) betray their rabidly pro-gun base in favor of federal power to prevent gun ownership, and

2) give the Democrats a legislative anti-gun victory in the wake of the shootings at Virginia Tech;

If they oppose the bill, they:

1) Deny the Executive authority in an issue of national security; and

2) Put themselves on record as saying that dangerous firearms should be in the hands of known terrorists.

And firearms in the hands of known terrorists is what is at issue here.  From Frank Lautenberg's website:

Under the federal Brady Act, a licensed firearms dealer must request a background check through the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) before an unlicensed individual may purchase a weapon.  However, even if a NICS check reveals that the prospective purchaser is a known or suspected terrorist, nothing in current law prevents that person from purchasing a gun unless he or she meets one of the other disqualifying factors, including felony or domestic abuse convictions. 

In January 2005, the GAO produced a report to Sens. Lautenberg and Biden (D-DE) that found that from February 3 to June 30, 2004, a total of 44 firearm purchase attempts were made by individuals designated as known or suspected terrorists by the federal government.  In 35 cases, the FBI authorized the transactions to proceed because FBI field agents were unable to find any disqualifying information (such as felony convictions or illegal immigrant status) within the federally prescribed three business days.  (emphasis added)

Now, while you might think that such a bill would be a no-brainer for the sort of Republicans like CA Republican Dana Rohrbacher who think that torturing innocent people is okay if it hurts people on the federal terrorist watchlists, it's actually not so simple.

The influential Second Amendment Foundation has issued a major press release eviscerating Alberto Gonzales for his support of this bill:


For Immediate Release:  5/1/2007

BELLEVUE, WA - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' troubling support of legislation that would allow him and future attorneys general the arbitrary power to block firearms purchases without due process is cause for him to step down as the nation's highest ranking law enforcement officer, the Second Amendment Foundation said today.

The bill, S. 1237, was introduced last week at the Justice Department's request by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), one of the most extreme anti-gunners in Congress. Called the "Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2007," this legislation would give the Attorney General discretionary authority to deny the purchase of a firearm or the issuance of a firearm license or permit because of some vague suspicion that an American citizen may be up to no good.

"This bill," said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb, "raises serious concerns about how someone becomes a `suspected terrorist.' Nobody has explained how one gets their name on such a list, and worse, nobody knows how to get one's name off such a list.

"The process by which someone may appeal the Attorney General's arbitrary denial seems weak at best," Gottlieb suggested, "and there is a greater concern. When did we decide as a nation that it is a good idea to give a cabinet member the power to deny someone's constitutional right simply on suspicion, without a trial or anything approaching due process?

"We're not surprised that General Gonzales has found an agreeable sponsor in Frank Lautenberg," Gottlieb observed. "The senator from New Jersey has never seen a restrictive gun control scheme he did not immediately embrace, and S. 1237 is loaded with red flags. It would allow an appointed bureaucrat the authority to suspend or cancel someone's Second Amendment right without even being charged with a crime.  (emphasis added)

I can't find an NRA statement on this; so far they have remained silent.  But I do find the newfound concern for the rights of "non-criminal" listed terrorists on the part of the wingers deeply touching and most charming.

And where are the Freepers on this issue?  Amusingly, with the terrorists and against the Administration, calling for Alberto's head, with comments like this:

Hemingway's Ghost: Holy smokes . . . this is truly difficult to believe, if true.

stockpirate: "Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' troubling support of legislation that would allow him and future attorneys general the arbitrary power to block firearms purchases without due process is cause for him to step down as the nation's highest ranking law enforcement officer"

Well now I must agree, He must step down, and he would not support this bill without the okay of Bush.

So I guess Bush is now going to sell us the rest of the way down the road.

sourcery: If Conservatives were to call for impeachment over this issue, imagine the consternation that would cause among the Libs...

gcruse: Get this bunch out of government.

Vision: Get him out of the office!

I knew he was a disaster from the beginning. Great move Bush.

SamAdams2000: I wont say that the bush administration is ruining this country..I just wont say that. That's the history books job.

The meltdown accelerates and the pressure grows from the right now, as well as the left.  Kudos to Senator Lautenberg for this brilliant tactical move and no-brainer legislation.

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