Freedom to Tyranny: How serial terrorist attacks will change America forever – Part III

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In recent days Natural News editor Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, warned of a coming multi-city attack throughout the United States similar to the one that took place in Paris in November and in San Bernardino, Calif., in December. Bugout.news editor Jon E. Dougherty wrote a manuscript in 2006 examining the impact of multiple terrorist attacks in the U.S. on Americans’ constitutional rights and freedoms, a theme he continued in graduate school in 2014-15. This article is one of a series to be published over the course of several days that will provide readers insight into what they might expect in terms of reactions by federal and state governments if Adams’ prediction comes true, and if the premise of Dougherty’s research is confirmed.

(Bugout.news) In a column published in the October 1997 USIA Electronic Journal, Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo., said, “The protections of the Fourth Amendment are clear. The right to protection from unlawful searches is an indivisible American value. Two hundred years of court decisions have stood in defense of this fundamental right. The state’s interest in effective crime-fighting should never vitiate the citizens’ Bill of Rights.”[1] The tendencies of our elected leaders since the war on terror began, however, don’t always reflect this sound truth.

Second Amendment

The Constitution is clear on the right of Americans to own firearms:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Some have argued the Second Amendment is not really an individual right – that its “well regulated militia” clause means it is a “collective” right which “allows” ordinary Americans arms only for the protection of the country. As such, they have constantly pushed a “gun control” political agenda, either severely limiting or even eliminating the right to keep and bear firearms altogether, in some jurisdictions.

Renewed calls for more gun control came after 9/11, when some elected politicians tied such ambitions to terrorism. Eliminating Americans’ Second Amendment right, they argued, would enhance national security and help combat terrorism.

In May 2003, led by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., a group of lawmakers with an anti-gun history introduced what they called the “Homeland Security Gun Safety Act.” Lautenberg claimed the legislation would close “loopholes” in gun laws “that allow terrorists to access weapons and explosives inside our borders.”[2]

“As our government confiscates toenail scissors at airports, secures power plants, and increases domestic surveillance,” Lautenberg said, “we’re ignoring the most obvious threat that’s out there, and that is the ease in [sic] which terrorists can access weapons in virtually any town across the country.” Lautenberg also said his bill would “not affect the vast majority of honest, law-abiding Americans who want to purchase guns,” he said. Rather, he claimed, it “focuses on preventing weapons from getting into the hands of terrorists and criminals.”

Others agreed with the anti-gun approach to curbing terrorism. In calling for more gun control in the wake of the D.C. sniper killings, National Public Radio reporter Nina Totenberg claimed during an October 27, 2002 appearance on NPR’s “Inside Washington” that, “if we think we’re going to fight the war on terrorism without some sort of significant gun control, we are crazy. This was a military weapon, a copy of a military weapon. There is no reason to have such a gun, there is no reason not to have fingerprinting of these weapons so that we can tell what gun fired it.”[3]

Meanwhile, several op-ed’s in traditionally liberal newspapers like The New York Times have argued that more gun control is needed to combat terrorism. In one March 9, 2005 op-ed, the NYT Editorial Desk argued that, “thanks to gun control loopholes, dozens of terrorism suspects have managed to stock their armories with assault rifles” – though “assault rifles” are not available for sale to the general public because the term, used improperly here, is supposed to refer to fully automatic genuine military weapons.[4]

But clearly if these gun control advocates had gotten their way, the nation would not only be much more at risk, one of its time-honored and cherished basic constitutional freedoms would suffer irreparable damage.

Opponents of the Lautenberg legislation, for instance, pointed out that if passed it would have allowed “law enforcement agencies to block all gun sales in their jurisdictions by simply refusing to complete background checks.”[5]

Such a measure sounded eerily familiar, some argued. “These are the very laws that were used by the Nazis to register everybody’s guns, to confiscate the Jews’ guns and then to commit genocide,” said Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America. “Why the senator would want to do something as horrible as that, I can’t understand.”

Germany’s “Law on Firearms and Ammunition” required all firearms to be registered with the federal government. Although the law was passed in 1928, prior to the Nazis coming to power, Hitler’s regime used the registration lists to confiscate firearms belonging to Jews and suspected “sympathizers.”[6]

Other experts, pundits and analysts were also opposed to the use by Lautenberg and other elected officials of the “war on terror” as an impetus to destroy Second Amendment rights.

“Armed with a few questionable studies, some acid-tongued rhetoric, and vague allusions to the War on Terrorism, the anti-gun lobby is expected to hammer away relentlessly at the capital’s most prominent Second Amendment stalwart, Attorney General John Ashcroft,” Sam MacDonald of Reason Magazine reported in its March 2002 issue.

Continuing, MacDonald noted, “The anti-gun movement has been citing a few studies done by hard-line disarmers at the Violence Policy Center and Americans for Gun Safety. These supposedly link terrorists to guns bought in the U.S., but the fact remains that so far all the damage has been done by airborne goons with ordinary household implements, not firearms.” [7]

Gun rights advocates noted that wherever they have been tried and implemented, regulating legal purchases of firearms by law-abiding citizens has no positive impact on crime – or terrorism. Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, enacted one of the strictest gun control laws in the nation in 1976. Since that time, the murder rate has dropped by 2 percent nationwide, while D.C.’s murder rate has increased by 134 percent.[8]

If the goal is keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists – or suspected terrorists – the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the congressional watchdog, concluded in a January 2005 report that the FBI and other related government agencies could do a better job matching firearms-related background checks to terrorist watch lists:

Membership in a terrorist organization does not prohibit a person from owning a gun under current law. Thus, during presale screening of prospective firearms purchasers, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System historically did not utilize terrorist watch list records. However, for homeland security and other purposes, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and applicable state agencies began receiving notices (effective February 3, 2004) when such screening involved watch lists records. GAO determined (1) how many checks have resulted in valid matches with terrorist watch list records, (2) procedures for providing federal counterterrorism officials relevant information from valid-match background checks, and (3) the extent to which the FBI monitors or audits the states’ handling of such checks… During the period GAO reviewed—February 3 through June 30, 2004—a total of 44 firearm-related background checks handled by the FBI and applicable state agencies resulted in valid matches with terrorist watch list records. Of this total, 35 transactions were allowed to proceed because the background checks found no prohibiting information, such as felony convictions, illegal immigrant status, or other disqualifying factors.

In other words, the GAO found a problem endemic to the U.S. intelligence community years before 9/11 (and, in many respects, in the years since) – no sharing, or not enough sharing, of vital information between appropriate agencies. With that in mind, argue opponents of gun control, the government’s inability to function efficiently does not – and should never – be used as an impetus to deny Americans their constitutional rights.

Go to PART I

Go to PART II

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[1] Sen. John Ashcroft, “Keep Big Brother’s hands off the Internet,” USIA Electronic Journal, October 1997, accessed online at http://usinfo.state.gov/journals/itgic/1097/ijge/gj-7.htm.

[2] Jeff Johnson, “Democrats link gun rights to terrorism,” CNSNews.com, May 1, 2003.

[3] Documented by the Media Research Center, October 28, 2002, online at http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021028.asp#1.

[4] Editorial desk, “Terror suspects’ right to bear arms,” The New York Times, March 9, 2005.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Sam MacDonald, “Gun control’s new language: How anti-terror rhetoric is being used against the Second Amendment,” Reason Magazine, March 2002 issue.

[8] Ibid.