In the face of unprecedented risks of terrorist attacks on American soil from recently arrived Muslim radicals, politicians on both the left and the right are doing nothing to find common ground to combat this frightening scourge. Instead, both sides are retreating to safe havens to appease their base rather than reaching out of their comfort zones to try to make us safer.
On the left we have the cries for greater gun control, even though the recent death tolls undoubtedly would have been reduced if the victims, along with the killers, were possessed of defensive weapons. On the right we have demands for a freeze on all Muslims entering the country, even though implementing such a ban would yield uncertain benefits and may be unconstitutional.
I would gladly give a bit on gun control if I could get something back on immigration – something short of a complete freeze.
Neither position is entirely without merit. As for guns, there are certain weapons that are impossible to justify in the hands of anyone other than soldiers or law enforcement. And, as to the immigration ban, there is abundant evidence that our entry system is failing. As just a recent example, it has emerged that Syrians are able to obtain high quality phony passports at a relatively modest price. Let’s face it: Muslim terrorists are slipping past the borders, including the recent entry of Farouk’s wife who improperly entered on a bogus “fiancée” visa.
I would gladly give a bit on gun control if I could get something back on immigration – something short of a complete freeze. I can’t see any good reason why there should not be a Federal ban on assault rifles. Such a ban was put in place in 1994, but it expired ten years later and has not been renewed. If the ban had remained in place, it would have applied to the Colt AR-15 long guns used by the San Bernardino terrorists that were purchased legally before the attack.
Assault rifles plainly are not needed for self-defense – outside of specialized SWAT teams, not a single police officer carries one and police equipment should be the gold standard for defensive weapons. If a cop can pursue a murder suspect with a Glock semi-automatic pistol, that should be good enough for the average citizen.
Assault rifles have been justified as necessary equipment for “sportsmen” who enjoy hunting. But hunting, say, a deer or a bear, with an assault rifle is not a sport. If hunting is a sport, there must be some level of skill involved. Shooting an animal with a rapid-fire assault rifle takes about as much skill as catching fish in an appetizing store. Hunting is fine, massacres are not.
So let’s talk about banning all assault rifles and putting in some hard penalties. How about a mandatory ten years in prison for possession? This will take these weapons off the street in no time and perhaps give law enforcement the ability to apprehend terrorists before they can do any damage.
Now, in exchange for this ban, let’s also make sure that law enforcement is given the resources to ban all Muslims whose words or deeds present the slightest risk of terrorist activity. There’s no need to worry about the First Amendment – the rights of free speech and privacy do not apply to immigrants applying for entry to the United States.
Muslim immigrants (and any immigrant fitting a profile for terrorist activity) should be required, as part of their application, to consent to complete transparency with respect to all internet and telecommunication activity. Any activity on Facebook, Google, Twitter or other social media or communication portals, including under anonymous or alternative identities, must be available for inspection. There can be no encrypted communications that evade review, or secret activity on the “dark web.” As to domestic terrorists, where probable cause exists, the same transparency should apply. When the Government has access to this information, no one will need to talk about banning all Muslims, just Muslims who present an unacceptable risk of terrorism.
Terrorists succeed today by communicating with each other beyond the reach of government surveillance. That must stop at once, and lawmakers must address this issue with the utmost urgency that it deserves. Let’s give the left a ban on assault rifles and get something of enormous value in return. It is a no-lose compromise that will make everyone safer.