Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton did agree about one thing during their debate Monday night: people on the government's various watchlists, including the no-fly list, should be denied their Second Amendment rights.
For Second Amendment supporters, this should be very troubling:
As both the ACLU and conservative commentators point out, the no fly list is notoriously inaccurate. It is also provides little or no due process protections. The process is secret, people are not told the reasons why they were placed on the list, and they are not given any advance opportunity to challenge the designation. And, once on the list, even a completely innocent person might find it difficult and time-consuming to get off it.
If Trump is committed to the idea that your Second Amendment rights can be stripped on such a flimsy basis, with so little due process, then virtually any other politically feasible limitation on gun rights is also acceptable. The sort of reasoning that would uphold this restriction on gun ownership would permit pretty much any other.
We wrote nearly a year ago, when Democrats gleefully embraced the idea, that it was a threat to freedom. Our opinion remains unchanged.
But if we dig a little, we find Mr. Trump agreeing with the NRA that these lists are a very bad method for determining gun rights, and that other, more effective mean exist:
Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association smoothed over a hiccup in their alliance Sunday, agreeing that the government’s terrorist watch lists are unreliable and should not be used to revoke Second Amendment rights, a position also being taken by liberal-leaning civil liberties groups not usually allied with the NRA or Mr. Trump.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee and the NRA synchronized their views as the U.S. Senate prepared to vote on Democrat-backed legislation that would do just that. The bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California would ban firearm sales to people on a terrorist watch list or no-fly list. The bill is one of four gun control measures going before the Senate on Monday in response to the terrorist attack last week in Orlando.
That's from June -- and it's where we thought the issue rested. Until Monday night's debate.
So...what we hope to get from the Republican nominee is clarity. And that seems even more elusive today:
Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican and Trump supporter, is also pushing for the policy to be enacted. He was at the debate Monday night in a room near the debate hall with other Trump supporters.
During a Tuesday interview, he said he “didn’t expect” Trump to bring up his support for the “no fly, no buy” policy during the debate, but also said he was not surprised.
“He feels strongly if you’re on the watch list, you shouldn’t get a gun,” King said.
On stage with Clinton, Trump touted his support for the policy in the same breath in which he also touted his support by the NRA.
“I agree with you, when a person is on a watch list or a no fly list,” Trump told her. “And I have the endorsement of the NRA, which I’m very proud of, these are very very good people and they are protecting the Second Amendment. But I think we have to look very strongly at no fly lists and watch lists.”
We stick by our initial position: these lists are a threat to freedom.