Civil Liberties

[Updated]* ACLU Opposes the No-Fly List, But Is Okay with Using It to Take People's Guns

Rep. Justin Amash says no-fly list, gun restrictions both wrong.


Gage Skidmore

The American Civil Liberties Union apparently hates guns more than it hates arbitrary government-enforced discrimination. Even though the ACLU opposes the no-fly list—and is suing the federal government for violating the due process rights of several people on it—the civil liberties advocacy group is theoretically okay with depriving people on the list of their gun rights.

A spokesperson for the ACLU told Buzzfeed News that the organization had no formal position on legislation, supported by the Obama administration, which would deny the right to purchase firearms to people on the no-fly list:

 "We don't have a position on the legislation in question, but … have many criticisms of the overall watchlisting system as it currently operates," ACLU's media strategist Josh Bell told BuzzFeed News.

"There is no constitutional bar to reasonable regulation of guns, and the No Fly List could serve as one tool for it, but only with major reform," said Hina Shamsi, the director of the ACLU National Security Project.

This is striking hypocrisy. The ACLU recognizes that the no-fly list is a due-process travesty, but still thinks it could serve as a basis for gun control? The "but only with major reform" qualification is hardly reassuring.

Libertarian-leaning Republican Rep. Justin Amash criticized the ACLU for its inconsistencies on Twitter:

Amash also wrote: "Putting someone on the no-fly list without due process and infringing on someone's right to keep and bear arms without due process are both wrong." He's exactly right. Unfortunately, there aren't very many consistent defenders of universal due process outside the libertarian sphere.

Shame on the ACLU for compromising its position in order to punish people for exercising rights it doesn't like, and not for the first time. (Related: The ACLU Now Opposes Religious Freedom Because Christians Need It).

Updated on December 10 at 1:00 p.m.: Subsequent tweets from Hina Shamsi of the ACLU come out more strongly against using the no-fly list to ban guns.