Kyle Wingfield

Political commentary and opinion from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's conservative blogger

Democrats against due process

It turns out, the problem isn't that Republicans won't restrict gun sales but that Democrats insist on trampling due process.

Four gun bills were defeated in the U.S. Senate on Monday night. This couldn't have surprised anyone. But it was revealing nonetheless, as it laid bare who are the "extremists" on this issue.

Republican senators voted for a measure that would have made it easier to keep guns out of terrorists' hands. For all the hue and cry from the left since the massacre this month at a gay nightclub in Orlando, you might have thought they'd have been trying to further eliminate barriers to gun ownership. But no, all they wanted was a measure to ensure innocent people aren't deprived of their rights.

The bill sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, would have delayed gun sales to people on a terrorist watch list by 72 hours, giving the government time to persuade a judge to deny the sale. Both the terrorist watch list and the no-fly list, which Democrats have also targeted for denial of gun sales, are famously flawed documents. They not only have included the names of people who aren't threats to the country, but have led to the flagging of people who weren't really on the list: the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, for instance. Anyone who has been the subject of a bureaucratic foul-up -- a roster that is surely longer than the terrorist watch list and no-fly list -- should understand the perils of putting the burden of proof on the person who's been deprived of his rights. As should anyone who understands the Bill of Rights even beyond the Second Amendment.

So why do Sens. Chris Murphy, Dianne Feinstein and other Democrats insist on their constitutionally backward "solution"? I can think of two possible reasons. First, maybe they don't consider it a violation of due process because they don't think you really have the right to own a gun. Remember, they are not talking merely about blocking the sales of "assault weapons," or some similarly scary-sounding but made-up category of firearms. Their measure would have applied even to sales of those guns Democrats insist they'd never even think of trying to ban. Uh huh.

Another possible reason is they're brazenly throwing an election-year bone to their base. After all, if Democrats are so passionate about doing whatever they can to prevent terrorists from getting their hands on weapons, why would they oppose a longer waiting period and the opportunity for the government to stop the sale completely? Maybe because it would resolve an issue they'd prefer to keep flogging from now until November?

Contrary to the irresponsibly overheated rhetoric from Murphy in particular, no one wants terrorists to have access to weapons. It's just that one side in this debate doesn't want to forfeit innocent Americans' rights in the process.

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About the Author

Kyle Wingfield joined the AJC in 2009. He is a native of Dalton and a graduate of the University of Georgia.