A Second Amendment group and a New York state senator are opposing legislation that would prohibit those on the federal terrorist watch list from obtaining or renewing a license to carry firearms in the state.
The bills, introduced by state Sen. Jeffery Klein (D.) and Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti (D.), prohibit "persons named on the consolidated terror watch list from obtaining or renewing a license to carry, possess, repair and dispose of firearms," according to a joint statement by state Sen. Robert Ortt (R.) and the Second Amendment group Shooters Committee on Political Education.
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"Any legislation or proposal attempting to tie the federal no-fly list to state firearm licenses will be impractical, ineffective, and most importantly, unconstitutional," the statement said.
Ortt, a combat veteran, said he is committed to preventing terrorists from acquiring firearms and protecting Americans. However, Ortt said the terror watch lists are "widely known to be secretive and inaccurate." Such "notable suspected terrorists" as Ted Kennedy, Cat Stevens, and a former president of Bolivia have been inconvenienced because their names appeared on a watch list.
"Citizens have no notice and limited recourse if they are improperly placed on the list," Ortt said.
According to SCOPE, the terrorist watch list and its derivatives do not meet any reasonable standard for the "deprivation of an individual’s rights." They said it is a clear violation of the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee "of due process before depriving one of ‘life, liberty or property.’ "
"When a citizen's fundamental constitutionally-guaranteed right to keep and bear arms can be infringed on mere suspicion, and inclusion on a secret government list, then none of our civil liberties are safe," SCOPE president Stephen J. Aldstadt said.
In a phone interview, Abinanti said his bill was a simple measure to ensure that terrorists are not able to acquire firearms.
"We’ve got to take reasonable steps, take guns out of the hands of those people who will hurt us. This is homeland security," Abinanti said. "We have to stat to target the people who want to target us."
Abinanti said there will be an appeals process available for individuals who are erroneously placed on the no-fly list.
"If the FBI puts out a list saying these are the people on our terror watch list who we are watching and shouldn’t fly, what other list do we use?"Abinanti said.
Klein said in an email statement the legislation he introduced is a matter of common sense.
"It is simply common sense to prohibit people who are suspected terrorists from purchasing or owning a gun," Klein said. "The fear that innocent people and legal gun owners are going to have their weapons confiscated is pure nonsense — current law already provides for due process requirements where firearm licenses have been revoked."
"Suspected terrorists should not be allowed to freely access firearms, and that is exactly what my ‘Deny Firearms to Dangerous Terrorists Act’ would aim to stop," Klein said.