Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.
A new gun law being considered in Congress, if aligned with Department of Homeland Security memos labeling everyday Americans as potential “threats,” could potentially deny firearms to pro-lifers, gun-rights advocates, tax protesters, animal rights activists, and a host of others – any already on the expansive DHS watch list for potential “extremism.”
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., has sponsored H.R. 2159, the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2009, which permits the attorney general to deny transfer of a firearm to any “known or suspected dangerous terrorist.” The bill requires only that the potential firearm transferee is “appropriately suspected” of preparing for a terrorist act and that the attorney general “has a reasonable belief” that the gun might be used in connection with terrorism.
Gun rights advocates, however, object to the bill’s language, arguing that it enables the federal government to suspend a person’s Second Amendment rights without any trial or legal proof and only upon suspicion of being “dangerous.”
“[Rep. King] would deny citizens their civil liberties based on no due process,” objected Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America. “A ‘known terrorist?’ Look, if the guy has committed an act of terrorism, we shouldn’t have to worry about him being able to buy a gun; he should be in jail!”
“By those standards, I’m one of [DHS Secretary] Janet Napolitano’s terrorists,” Pratt said. “This bill would enable the attorney general to put all of the people who voted against Obama on no-gun lists, because according to the DHS, they’re all potential terrorists. Actually, we could rename this bill the Janet Napolitano Frenzied Fantasy Implementation Act of 2009.”
Pratt’s biggest concern, however, is the sidestepping of the Constitution and due process that the nebulous language of this bill could permit.
“Unbeknownst to us, some bureaucrat in the bowels of democracy can put your name on a list, and your Second Amendment rights are toast,” Pratt told WND. “This is such an anti-American bill, this is something King George III would have done.”
As WND reported, right-wing “extremists” aren’t the only Americans on the DHS watch list.
That memo, the “Domestic Extremism Lexicon” expanded the list from typical “right-wing” causes to include left-wing extremism, animal rights activists, black separatists, anarchists, Cuban independence advocates, environmental extremists, the anti-war movement and more. It even insisted some of these groups were prone to violence.
For example, the lexicon defined the “tax resistance movement” – also referred to in the report as the tax protest movement or the tax freedom movement – as “groups or individuals who vehemently believe taxes violate their constitutional rights. Among their beliefs are that wages are not income, that paying income taxes is voluntary, and that the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which allowed Congress to levy taxes on income, was not properly ratified.”
It further states that tax protesters “have been known to advocate or engage in criminal activity and plot acts of violence and terrorism in an attempt to advance their extremist goals.”
The DHS memos were meant for distribution to law enforcement officials around the country, prompting some to worry the definitions might be used to classify Americans who simply disagree with government policies as being dangerous.
As WND reported, the relative of a Louisiana driver claims her brother-in-law has already been unfairly targeted by police simply for having a supposedly subversive, “Don’t Tread on Me” bumper sticker on his car.
According to the relative, it happened this way: Her brother-in-law was driving home from work through Ball, La., which has a local reputation for enhancing its budget by ticketing speeders. He was pulled over by police officers who told him “he had a subversive survivalist bumper sticker on his car.”
“They proceeded to keep him there on the side of the road while they ran whatever they do to see if you have a record, keeping him standing by the side of the road for 30 minutes,” she told WND.
Finding no record and no reason to keep him, they warned him and eventually let him go, she said.
WND has withheld the driver’s name and the relative’s name at their request.
H.R. 2159 has six co-sponsors, from both parties, and has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
WND contacted Rep. King’s office for comment on the bill, but received no response.
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