Rahm Emanuel
Rahm Emanuel (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

First, Emanuel says anyone with a “domestic-violence record” should be “banned from buying a gun.” This is an excellent idea. Also, it is already the law. Owning a gun after a domestic-violence conviction is illegal under federal law — and under numerous state laws. It is legal for the police to take guns when there is “reasonable fear of bodily injury” to the partner or child.  These regulations are occasionally abused by law enforcement but, at a minimum, there exists a rudimentary due process, rather than arbitrary gun confiscation. We can only deduce, then, that Emanuel means guns should be confiscated from those merely accused of domestic violence by another party.

Emanuel’s second idea is to ban those with “a mental-health issue, and a relationship and anything on violence on mental health” from buying guns. Another good idea. And again, already the law. It is illegal to sell a firearm or ammunition to any person you know or have reasonable cause to believe “has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution.”

Emanuel is likely talking about red-flag laws that empower the police to confiscate guns from Americans on the strength of a third-party accusation. California, for instance, already has a law (a grossly unconstitutional one, I would argue) that bars anyone who has checked into a mental facility — even, for say, nervous exhaustion or an addiction problem — from owning firearms for the rest of their lives. Even if a person shows a preponderance of evidence that he would use firearms in a safe and lawful manner, he may never buy a gun.

Not only do such laws unduly deprive Americans of their rights, but they also stigmatize mental illnesses that have nothing to do with potential violence or criminality. It is also a good way to discourage gun owners who suffer from, say, depression or suicidal thoughts from seeking the help they need.

Yet, Emanuel’s most egregious proposal is “No Fly, No Buy.” The idea here is to confiscate the guns of American citizens who’ve been arbitrarily placed on various secret government no-fly and watch lists without any probable cause, any assumption of innocence, or any due process.

One can vividly imagine how such lists could be abused by Democrats, who believe the National Rifle Association is a “terrorist organization” and most conservatives are “white supremacists.” Emanuel, for instance, said that the “Proud Boys are a domestic terrorist group” that would fall under the law. Whatever you think of members of the Proud Boys or Antifa, or whatever group you find most detestable, they are made up of individuals. Emanuel wants to divest adherents of their constitutional rights for thought crimes. That’s not how this works.

— David Harsanyi in Rahm Emanuel: Hey, Let’s Strip Gun Owners of Due-Process Rights

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