After police arrested Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad at a New York airport, they found a rifle in his car. Shahzad's name had appeared on a no-fly list in time to prevent him from escaping, yet in the months before the failed bombing attempt he was able to walk into a gun shop and legally purchase the weapon. The news set off a scramble in Congress to propose a bill barring suspected terrorists from buying guns. That would be fine, says Steve Chapman in Reason, "except for that pesky Second Amendment," which makes it unconstitutional to deny an American citizen the right to buy a gun. An excerpt:
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), is one of many people wondering why a suspected terrorist can be barred from flying but not from purchasing a gun. It "defies common sense," he says, that "the rights of terrorists are placed above the safety of everyday Americans."
Well, not exactly. Anyone convicted of terrorism has no right to buy a gun, since felons are barred under federal law. And Lautenberg neglects to mention that in denying constitutional rights to people merely suspected of dangerous connections, he would deny rights to lots of peaceable 'everyday Americans.'"