2/02 Senators Urge Ashcroft To Break The Law

Senators Urge Ashcroft To Break The Law
Larry Pratt

It was quite a scene. America had been attacked by terrorists not two months earlier, and the wounds were still raw.

Attorney General John Ashcroft appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee in December. Several senators complained correctly, in my opinion, about the many infringements of our rights in the legislation that passed (with their votes) after the 9/11 attack.

Among those expressing concern about the privacy of our homes, computers, telephones and conversations with our lawyers were Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA).

Then they turned their attention to firearms and the people who own them — people of whom they seem to have a pathological fear and hatred. Why, they wanted to know, was the Justice Department refusing to check the names of suspected terrorists against the list of gun buyers resulting from the instant background check.

Nobody said, “What list?” Everybody seemed to know that the list of gun buyers existed. However, that list represents a direct violation of the law. The instant background check that generates this list of gun owners was established by the Brady Law. The law very specifically prohibits keeping a list, or giving the names to anyone else to maintain. The law says that the names are to be destroyed “immediately.”

In our Brave New World of newspeak, immediately meant 180 days to Janet Reno when she was attorney general.

To check the names of suspected terrorists who might have bought a gun even years before the September 11 attack would require a list of purchasers going back much more than 180 days. But of course, if immediately means 180 days, then 180 days means forever.

What a spectacle! Schumer and Kennedy have more concern for the rights of suspected terrorists than for Americans who exercised their constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

And these were among the chorus of Senators pressing Ashcroft to promise on his mother’s grave that he would keep the law if confirmed as Attorney General.

It doesn’t seem to bother these senators that the integrity-challenged FBI is illegally maintaining this list, since the FBI was a true FOB (Friend of Bill). The FBI had been illegally maintaining files on prominent Republicans and when newly-elected President Clinton put out the call for some 1100 files to be turned over for entry into his computer, the FBI only asked how quickly he wanted them.

It is the misuse of personal information that has been a constant concern of friends of freedom. The history of the twentieth century teaches all too well that governments do not use gun registration lists to fight crime. In fact, crime increases with gun registration because governments frequently steal some or all of their subjects’ guns, and sometimes murder disarmed target groups in the population.

We now have enough experience with disarmed cities and countries to know for a fact that banning guns means criminals will be emboldened to use guns to terrorize their helpless victims.

Gun control does not produce crime control. That point must be continually made.

Happily, Ashcroft has ordered the FBI to destroy the records after one day. This is an improvement. Now “immediately” has been redefined from 180 days to one day.

But an improvement is not the permanent solution. The only permanent solution is the total destruction of the instant registration check system. In other words, the Brady Law must be repealed.

Let us remind those who would beckon us to trade our liberty for security that the scrutiny of gun owners prior to 9/11 kept the FBI’s eyes so glued on those exercising their Second Amendment freedom (and others in the “vast right-wing conspiracy”) that four gun-free planes flew right past their noses on the way to killing nearly 4,000 people.

We do not need more security. We need more freedom.