A Happy Medium on Dealing with Guns and Public Safety

Many people, including a group of Democrats in Congress, are insisting that we include things like No-Fly lists in the decision process before allowing someone to buy a gun.  There is one significant, but not insurmountable, issue with that.  Inclusion on a No-Fly list does not require due process of law.  Owning a personal firearm is a constitutionally granted right.  You cannot take away a constitutional right to life, liberty, or property without due process.  This was initially documented in the Magna Carta and made part of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Nonetheless, we are discovering that if FBI watch lists were referenced during the terrorist’s legal purchase of a Sig Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle and a Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol, he would have been prevented from buying them. (BTW, for those who don’t know about guns, a semi-automatic firearm only can shoot one round per trigger pull whereas an automatic firearm can shoot multiple rounds per trigger pull).  The Republicans are insisting that there are inaccuracies on these watch lists.  There are, but this can be dealt with using existing technology and processes.

The Transportation Security Administration is responsible for the issuance of Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC).  Let’s say that a person needs to get into a federally restricted access area for work.  That person needs a TWIC, which has a picture, a microchip, and counterfeiting countermeasures built in, to enter the restricted access area.  Let’s say that the applicant for a TWIC is on a watch list or has some other potentially disqualifying factor.  The applicant’s application will be denied, but the applicant will also be given instructions on how to proceed with getting that decision overturned (see https://www.tsa.gov/for-industry/twic#quickset-twic_faqs_10).  If the applicant files for redress or requests a waiver, and is still not approved, the applicant can request a formal hearing with an administrative law judge (see https://www.tsa.gov/node/2852).  That is a due process hearing.  Would having to go that far take time and effort?  Yes.  Would a person who was initially prevented from exercising Second Amendment rights possibly be able to have those rights restored? Yes.

I am an NRA Life Member and Certified Instructor.  While I don’t want to run the risk of losing my rights or heading down a slippery slope, I could embrace this approach if the same level of diligence that is applied by the TSA would be applied to present and future firearm owners.

If you like this approach, do something about it.  Write letters to your representatives and senators.  IMHO, we’re focusing too much on firearms and not enough on those who wield them illegally.


Ebola and Movie Night

If you are not concerned about Ebola in the U.S., you should be.  If you are unsure of where you stand on this issue, please do me a favor.  Take $2.99 and rent the movie Contagion with Matt Damon, et al. (http://smile.amazon.com/Contagion-Matt-Damon/dp/B006SV2LWA/ref=sr_pi_1_1_ha_syps_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1412317520&sr=1-1&keywords=contagion).  It is a very well-done movie that does not go over the top in portraying the grim reality of how fast a deadly virus can impact a nation.  Here is a dialog from a particularly poignant scene:

Aubrey Cheever: How many people are gonna die?
Dr. Ellis Cheever: Well, in nineteen eighteen one percent of the population died from Spanish flu. It was novel, like this, no one had ever seen it before.
Aubrey Cheever: One percent of America?
Dr. Ellis Cheever: One percent of the world. As many as seventy million people could die, baby, maybe more.

That figure is actually too small.  According to the CDC, up to two percent of the world died from the Spanish Flu pandemic (http://www.flu.gov/pandemic/history/1918/the_pandemic/index.html). If you take the numbers from Wikipedia, it’s even higher (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1918_flu_pandemic).

This is bigger than ISIS or any other crisis facing the world.  We need to get a handle on this now or truly be in grave danger.