Citing a distrust of governmental efficacy, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina says that being listed on a terrorist watch list should not preclude an individual from purchasing a gun. She backed it up with a spurious claim that states with the most stringent gun laws have the highest number of mass shootings.
UPI reported December December 4 that Carly Fiorina, in a appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in the wake of the San Bernardino mass shooting that left 16 people dead (including the two suspects who opened fire on and killed 14 people at a developmental disabilities clinic), stated that America’s problem with gun violence stems from its failure to enforce existing gun laws. She told the show’s hosts that there were “lists and lists of people who shouldn’t own guns who have them.” She then repeated a previous claim that states with stricter gun laws had higher rates of mass shootings, a statement that has been debunked by an analysis of the actual numbers by organizations like the Centers for Disease Control, 24/7 Wall Street, and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (per FactCheck.org), all of which showed a correlation between higher numbers of firearms-related deaths and less stringent gun laws.
Following her completely inaccurate representation of states which make purchasing a gun more difficult, “Morning Joe” hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough asked whether individuals on a terrorist watch list should be allowed to purchase a gun. Fiorina labeled the question a “red herring.”
“If somebody is a suspected terrorist on a watch list, they can be indicted at any time, and once you’re indicted, you cannot own a firearm,” Fiorina said, apparently seeing no reason to stop a suspected terrorist from owning a deadly weapon. (But suspects’ rights are often suspended, some are even incarcerated, simply on suspicion of certain crimes, yet she sees no reason to suspend the right of someone on a terrorist watch list to have their right to buy a gun taken from them.)
Joe Scarborough, once a congressman from Pennsylvania, brought up a strong point. “If you’re on a terror watch list you can’t get on a plane but you can buy a .223?” (Note: the .223 calibre cartridge is one of the most commonly used and is the cartridge used in the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.)
Carly Fiorina replied, “If I had utter faith in the competence of government, I might agree with that. But do you? I don’t.”
So it is the businesswoman’s lack of faith in the competency with which a terrorist watch list is compiled that warrants someone placed on it not having their right to purchase a gun suspended — even momentarily, or until said individual is removed from the list? Should not such considerations err on the side of caution?
Regardless of one’s political stance on the Second Amendment, the Constitutional right to bear arms, one might consider suspending the right of an individual to purchase a firearm as a common sensical preventive measure to potential gun violence or gun-related mayhem (the person is, after all, a suspected terrorist), just as keeping jailed a suspected murderer or forbidding someone on an actual terrorist watch list from boarding an airplane. It is called providing for the common welfare — one of the central pillars of governance set down in the preamble of the Constitution — in the form of a protective measure to ensure public safety. Preventing such a person, one suspected of potentially committing dangerous acts, in no way prevents others not on the terrorist watch list from purchasing a firearm. Separating the suspected from the average citizen is commonly done by law enforcement agencies and, if properly outlined legally and enforced, would not impact the individual’s civil rights. And would keep them from legally obtaining a gun.
Bills have been presented in Congress since 2007, according to the Washington Post, to attempt to install a suspension clause when dealing with those who have been placed on a terrorist watch list. Most never make it out of committee, never mind reaching the floor of Congress to receive a vote, quashed by pro-gun rights lobby, politicians, and pressure from the National Rifle Association. Furthermore, according to the New York Times, the guns used in 15 recent mass shootings, including the San Bernardino mass shooting, were purchased legally.
Carly Fiorina is one of more than a dozen Republican candidates still in the running for the 2016 GOP nomination for president. She experienced a surge in polling in September, as can be seen with Real Clear Politics poll tracking, even taking second place to the dominating Donald Trump in CNN/ORC poll early in that month. However, her numbers have dropped in the succeeding months. The latest CNN/ORC poll sees her numbers at 3, tied for sixth place with former Florida governor Jeb Bush, and far behind an even more dominant Donald Trump.