The thing about guns - Alex Wong, Getty Images
by Steve Timmer
Jun 16, 2016, 11:00 AM

Guns don’t kill people

Brown people with guns kill people

afraid to say

Cartoon by Jim Morin

This story is mostly to get you to go and read an article in The Intercept, the title of which is Democrats Embrace Secretive, Flawed Terror Watchlist in Fight Against Gun Violence.

You may have heard about a Senate filibuster aimed at using the “terrorist watch list” as a basis for the denial of a gun purchase. Hillary Clinton has embraced the idea. But as the Intercept reports:

For Democrats, however, the move amounts to a strong endorsement of a system that civil liberties advocates have called a “Kafkaesque bureaucracy,” and which some Democrats have previously criticized for being secretive, unaccountable, and discriminatory.

 Having a co-worker who doesn’t like Muslims or furriners has been enough to get some people on the watch list on an allegation that they made “remarks.” Viz.:

Getting your name on a watchlist is much easier than getting it off. According to interagency watchlisting guidelines The Intercept published in 2013, it takes neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to add someone’s name as a terror suspect. The guidelines allow the administration to name individuals as representatives of terrorist groups they have no demonstrable connection to, or to name entire “categories” of people on to the no-fly list.

This initiative is really mostly theater. It would prohibit certain persons from buying guns, some of whom, admittedly, shouldn’t have them. But it would probably prohibit at least as many just on the basis that they are Muslim or Middle Eastern.

Maybe not, I don’t know. But I’ll bet that the Senators mounting the filibuster don’t know, either.

And pardon my cynicism, it seems like an easy and political move to dodge the issue of the widespread availability of the AR15 type weapons, large capacity magazines, etc. In other words, to look like you are doing something without taking on the NRA.

According to The Intercept, in fact, Donald Trump was going to confer with the NRA about this idea; you can bet he’s got it figured out.

Update: News reports suggest that the filibuster secured a vote on expanded background checks, which is good.

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