On No-Fly Lists and Gun Control

On the one hand, I get it. Tying gun control to the No-Fly List is extremely problematic. The list is dumb and racist. You aren’t even allowed to know if you’re on it and it’s probably unconstitutional.

But that’s not the point.

The point is that it’s the perfect tool to highlight how absurd Congress’ stance on guns is. It’s an intersection of two indefensible positions that forces Congressional Republicans to choose one at the expense of the other.

The no-fly list is something Republicans wanted, and championed, and frequently defend as something that protects Americans. It’s something they hold up as proving they’re Strong On Terror. They also blame ISIS and terrorists for every shooting, even ones committed by white Christians, and insist the solution is more guns. So combine those things and they should be the ones fighting to keep their list of terrorists from buying and owning guns, right?

But they’re not! They’re actively fighting against the utility of their own list!

That’s why this tactic is utterly brilliant. It makes Congressional Republicans either admit the no-fly list is a sham, that “Islamic Terrorism” is a straw man, or that this is about the maximum number of people being able to buy guns regardless of who they are because the focus is sales figures.

So from the Democrats’ perspective either you break the ice on gun control, which is extremely valuable since the first concession is always the hardest, to get or you poison the fear-of-terrorism well they always go to and get some meaningful national security reform.

It’s a no-lose situation for the Democrats created by painting the Republicans into a corner and forcing them to argue against themselves. The reason liberal Democrats dislike the tactic is exactly why it’s such a masterstroke.

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