Here in the United States, the latest proposal in the gun control debate is to ban anyone on the “terrorist watchlist” from buying guns. This seems like a good idea for the average low information voter, but a quick peek behind the curtain shows that this might be the most dangerous and blatantly unconstitutional proposal that has ever been discussed. Over in the United Kingdom guns are already a taboo subject so when the Crown decided to add all of these “dangerous” gun owners to a central database for a similar reason no one batted an eyelash — or even noticed, until they spilled the beans in a “case study” buried deep within a boring government report.
Via the UK Shooting News:
BPD Case Study: Preventing Access to Firearms
The terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008 and the more recent shootings in Copenhagen and Paris in 2015, highlight the risk posed from terrorists gaining access to firearms. To help manage the risk of UK based subjects of interest accessing firearms, the intelligence agencies match data about individuals assessed to have access to firearms with records of known terrorists. To achieve this, the security and intelligence agencies acquired the details of all these individuals, even though the majority will not be involved in terrorism and therefore will not be of direct intelligence interest. This allowed the matching to be undertaken at scale and pace, and more comprehensively than individual requests could ever achieve. Completing such activities enabled the intelligence agencies to manage the associated risks to the public.
Let me try to give you a TL;DR on this. The Crown is concerned that a Paris style terrorist attack might happen in the UK. Despite the fact that the firearms used in the various mass shootings in and around Paris this past year have all been from illegal sources and smuggled in through the black market, The Crown has decided to start combing through the records of every gun club in the country looking for any suspected or possible terrorists among the population of law abiding gun owners.
There’s two concerns with this latest revelation.
First, there was never any indication that the information being handed over to the police was being stored for future use. Every person who joins a gun club in the UK must submit their information to the police to be checked against the same background check system they use for firearms permits, and the prevailing belief was that this information was then immediately discarded. Apparently that doesn’t happen, and now all of the gun club members in the UK (about 1 in 65 people) have their personal information in a massive database tagged as a “gun nut.”
The second concern is that the British government might be starting to implement the same system that the US gun control activists have been clamoring for. If they are using their version of the terrorist watchlist to screen gun club members (even ex post facto) then it’s a simple logical hop to start using that same process to deny people access to firearms based on that same list. After all, these are “dangerous terrorists” that the UK is trying to keep from owning guns, right? Like an 8 year old child? I mean, who doesn’t love it when their Constitutionally protected civil rights can be revoked by a secret list that anyone can be added to at any time for any reason with no way to be removed?
The good news for US gun owners is that the Bill of Rights protects the Due Process rights of American citizens, something that has been significantly degraded over the years in the UK to the point that criminals are required to incriminate themselves during interrogations. So while this might be a walk in the park for the UK to implement, it will be a much tougher fight to do in the United States — and an even tougher court battle to keep, even with the degraded Supreme Court.