ACLU Speaks Out Against 'No-Fly' Gun Bills

The recent sit-in conducted by House Democrats with the intentions of forcing a vote on a gun control ended after about 25 hours, long after the House Republicans adjourned until July 5.

Many questioned the constitutionality of the bill the Democrats were pushing for a vote, saying that it ignored due process and was unconstitutional, because it would use existing “no-fly” lists and terrorist watch lists to bar American citizens from owning firearms. The lists, however, are secret, the government can arbitrarily add names to the lists without giving any reason or adjudication, and there is no appeal process in place for removal from said lists.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a staunch proponent for human and civil rights, opposed the legislation and urges lawmakers not to vote for another bipartisan bill known as the Collins Amendment, which is very similar to the "no-fly" bills already defeated in the Senate, and left unaddressed in the House.

The Collins bill includes an appeals process once a person is added to the list, but doesn't address any due process concerns.

"The ACLU strongly urges you to vote against the Collins Amendment because it uses the error-prone and unfair watchlist system, along with vague and overbroad terms, as a predicate for a proceeding to deny a firearms permit," ACLU officials wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

“The ACLU believes implementing the Collins amendment would serve to ‘further entrench a watchlist system that is rife with problems,’ adding that the current watchlist is ‘unreliable because it uses vague and overbroad criteria and secret evidence to place individuals on blacklists without a meaningful process to correct government error and clear their names.’”

“The nonprofit organization also noted the fact that ‘nominations to the master watchlist need not be based on “concrete facts.””

“‘It permits placement on the master watchlist based on uncorroborated or even questionably reliable information,’ the ACLU added.”

On Thursday, the Senate voted to allow further consideration of the bipartisan Collins bill, though Republicans could have killed the measure.

This story from USA Today says it's not clear if the bill has enough support to pass. The story says 52 senators voted to keep considering the bill, but it will ultimately need 60 votes to be adopted. Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has called it a "test vote to see what it looks like."

Ultimately, proponents would have to flip the opinions of six Republicans who voted to kill the legislation on Thursday, the story says. –