A lot of virtual ink has been spilled over the absurd proposal from Rep Peter King (D-NY) to create roving Constitutional Rights Revocation Zones -- lampooned by Jon Stewart, even -- as well as Rep Carolyn McCarthy's (D-NY) onerous gun banning law. Frankly, both look like they have poor chances even with unquestioning media support. Also, most of the public realize that none of these proposals would have actually done anything to prevent the crime in Arizona. However, these demonstrations are distracting from a proposal which is significantly more dangerous.
A lot less talk has occured about Sen Chuck Schumer's (D-NY) gun control proposal. On the face of it, it is reasonable: require the military to report anyone who fails a drug test to NICS, including recruit candidates.
In theory, I don't think this is a terrible idea. For example, I think it might be appropriate to refer the information that you failed a pee test to DEA agents for follow up, and maybe even to report you to NICS for a limited period of time (90 days or something maybe). However, I'm sure that the way Sen Schumer plans to implement it, it will be unacceptable and totally destroy due process.
I would not be surprised to see Sen Schumer is pushing for a single failed drug test to be the basis for a lifetime status of "prohibited person." While the GCA 1968 does include people who are addicted to or using illegal drugs as prohibited persons, if you clean up your act then that in theory takes you off the list of prohibited persons (unless, say, you've racked up a felony conviction along the way). This makes sense: just because someone smoked some weed back in the 60s doesn't mean that they should qualify as a prohibited person. Heck, using Schumer's logic would make President Clinton, President GW Bush, and President Obama all prohibited persons because all have acknowledged a history of drug use.
Moreover, there are serious due process issues. Just because Sgt Snuffy reports that you failed drugs doesn't mean that you actually did. Sometimes drug tests have false positives. Maybe the vials got switched; how good is the chain of custody? Maybe Sgt Snuffy had a clerical error. The process would need to be ironclad in order to avoid making a mockery of due process if the intent is to create a lifetime disabling offense.
Even making it a temporary disabling offense is troublesome; how will you be notified that you're a prohibited person? Will your first notification be a joint DEA/ATF raid that kicks in your door, face plants you, and arrests you for felony possession of a firearm? What if your 18 year old kid smokes weed and gets turned away by the recruiters -- does your bird gun now make everyone in the house a felon? Nobody wants drug addicts to have guns but I can definitely see how this process could be abused, and the track record of the federal agencies involved indicates that it is not unreasonable to think that they might abuse such information.
Finally, In From the Cold -- where we first learned about this proposal -- brings up a bunch of issues related to military recruiting and how this proposal would complicate that difficult activity.
Rep King and Rep McCarthy are very unlikely to have any success with their bills. Rep Boehner has basically said "no" and they are not getting any traction; their bills are likely DOA. Sen Schumer, on the other hand, holds a leadership position in the majority democratic caucus in the Senate. His ability to attach this stuff to something else and get it moving is much greater. Moreover, on the face of it, his proposal actually seems much more reasonable on the face of it in that it might have actually done something to prevent Loughner's crime. I'm not opposed to the basic idea of promoting information sharing, but I am almost certain that the result of Sen Schumer's proposal will be very different. After all, his intent is to ban guns and reduce gun ownership, not to reduce crime. This is just a vehicle that allows him to achieve his real goal.
So -- keep your eye on the legislation. See exactly what the wording is. And be prepared to raise heck with your Senators to get this watered down to a reasonable level. All of these legislators are from the NY Caucus. I'm sure that they coordinate efforts to some degree. The King and McCarthy measures are the most prominent, but also the least likely to go anywhere. While they make a lot of noise, Sen Schumer may be able to slip something through. Don't be fooled.
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