Katherine Revello's Rebuttal to
'Why Trite Responses Are Not Enough'
Katherine Revello (Classical Liberalism)
Evan Klim (Democratic Socialism)
Mr. Klim’s assertion that the “no-fly list” represents a reasonable restriction upon which gun control measures could be based upon is fundamentally flawed. It is impossible for security to be achieved when doing so requires sacrificing one right to protect another, which is precisely what such a proposal would require.
As Klim notes, the no-fly list is a “provocative example”. This is because it runs roughshod over due process rights. American citizens who are placed on the no-fly list do not need to be charged with a crime, or even be notified, of the reasons for which they are placed upon it. (Florence, 2006, p. 2155) This clearly violates the Fourth Amendment’s promise that citizens shall be secure in their person against unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as the Fifth Amendment’s assurance that no person may be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of the law. Furthermore, the “no-fly list” provides those who run afoul of it no means to redress their grievances—a violation of a promise made by the First Amendment—because they are often unable to even discover the reason for which they have been placed upon it. Therefore they are unable to take steps to prove themselves innocent and have their freedom of travel restored. (“Know your rights,” 2018).
Any gun control regulation that operated on the same principle, which would presumably make it impossible for those suspected of desiring to commit a crime to purchase a gun, would run afoul of the same Constitutional protections. Not only would such a measure clearly infringe upon protected liberties, it also violates a bedrock principle of democratic systems: the idea that individuals are innocent until proven guilty.
Klim may be correct in pointing out that all terrorist attacks cannot be prevented because not all would-be terrorists broadcast their intentions to the world. However, this means that, on paper, an innocent citizen and a would-be mass murderer look very much the same. In order to curb the ability of those with evil designs, the gun control measures the author proposes would require holding all actors to the same account. But this egalitarian approach has the unfortunate effect of projecting suspicion of criminal intent upon even the innocent, who would have to prove to government authorities that they are responsible.
It hardly seems right to call such measures, which give total power to officials to not only determine what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behaviours and attitudes but to act to punish those who run afoul of their judgment, “reasonable”. There is little ability for citizens to seek redress for the wrongs done to them when government allows those in power to codify their values into law. Without objectivity, citizens lose the ability to object.
The measures Mr. Klim proposes may, nevertheless, still seem reasonable in view of the fact that they are motivated by the best of motives: the desire to protect the lives of the innocent. As he states, “doing something to decrease the likelihood of gun violence is better than doing nothing” doubtless in the interest of preserving the lives of the innocent. But gun control measures instituted in the name of security do not actually achieve this end when they undermine the other rights that citizens have.
Florence, J. (2005). Making the no fly list fly: A due process model for terrorist watchlists. Yale Law Journal, 115, 2148-2181.
“Know your rights: what to do if you think you’re on the no-fly list”. Retrieved from ACLU: