The FBI has a practice that is violating many people’s Second Amendment rights. They are getting away with this with the agency’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Recently, it’s come out in the open that there are people being denied access to purchase firearms simply because the FBI has put them on a federal “watch list.”
After exploring the issue, you’ll see why there is no place for such a practice in a constitutional republic.
The Problem With the FBI’s Watch List
The FBI’s watch list isn’t based on any kind of lawful due process. Many times people end up on this list because of false facts, opinions, and connections to others. Once the FBI puts you on this list, it’s pretty difficult to get off of it. It basically allows law enforcement to prohibit anyone they want from exercising their Second Amendment rights. That’s why it’s called a “shadow gun ban.”
During the background check (NICS), the results come back to the gun store that the application is either approved, denied, or delayed. If it’s delayed, all that means is that they need extra time (up to three days) to approve the request. Many times, these delays target those people that have been flagged for being on the FBI’s watch list.
The NRA and the ACLU Are Fighting for Rights
The NRA and the American Civil Liberties Union, organizations that are not normally on the same side, are up in arms in defense of people’s rights. Not only does the shadow gun ban practice violate the Second Amendment, but it also infringes on people’s First and Fifth Amendment rights. There’s an insane amount of unconstitutionality going on here that luckily these organizations and the courts are trying to combat.
Turaani v. Wray is one such case in the U.S. Court of Appeals right now. The case involves Khalid Turaani, who tried to lawfully buy a firearm from a gun show in Michigan in 2018 and was denied after an FBI agent expressed concern over the purchase. The NICS check came up delayed, but the gun dealer felt uncomfortable with the sale after getting a visit from the FBI. If you are wondering why Mr. Turaani was on the list in the first place, it was because the FBI had a picture of him with an associate that the FBI had found questionable.
Mr. Turaani’s case is against the Director of the FBI, Christopher Wray for violating his Second Amendment rights.
The biggest problem is that the FBI is putting people on this watch list for a variety of reasons only they know, including political beliefs and associations. The FBI shouldn’t be the ones that are saying who can have their constitutional rights violated. That seems like a severe abuse of power.