Justin Amash

[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.

NEXT: Latest on San Bernardino Attack, No Charges in Chicago Police Shooting, Cruz Leading Trump in Iowa: P.M. Links

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. ACLU needs to change to S.ome O.f A.C.L.U.

    1. Or just FYTW…

    2. Oops; I’m late to the party again.

  2. Really don’t get the ACLU sometimes. They really hate guns that much?

    1. Possibly compounding the confusion is that state chapters are (some, mostly) independent of the national organization, so some state ACLU have backed gun rights.

      I once donated money to the ACLU, and was immediately inundated with so much snail mail begging for more money that I started sending it all back to hem in the postage-paid reply envelopes. It still took them several months to get the message. I have often wondered since how much of their donations go to actual execution of their alleged mission.

    2. Duh, they are lefties

    3. American Civil Liberties Union members know that the 2nd Amendment is a scab amendment and as union members it is the duty to stomp it into the ground.

  3. This thread is going to be a trailer park hit by a category 5 tornado of kultur war idiocy. And it’s all your fault Robby.

    1. Rico lives for this, Hugh. Don’t ruin his high.

    2. If we keep to the “fuck the fair-weather friends” motif, we should be OK.

      Fuck those fair-weather friends.

    3. Meh, this is rather unsurprising. It’s annoying, but their own statement left so much wiggle room, hardly going to be upset over it.

    4. As long as I can bring my guns to the TRAKTOR PULL before my trip to Walmart so I can buy more ammo befuckingcause, I’m good.

  4. Well Roger Baldwin did say the original goal of the ACLU was Communism.

    1. Bingo. Though to be fair the ACLU has always leaned toward the warm, fuzzy type of Communism. The kind that Unicorns & Yeti abide by.

  5. There is no constitutional bar to reasonable regulation of guns,

    My copy of the Second Amendment contains no qualifications that allow the RKBA to be “infringed” even with “reasonable” regulations.

    1. and there’s that weasel word again, reasonable. Right up there with common sense, semi-automatic, and assault weapons; terms no one can actually define but whose meaning the ‘right’ people are certain of.

      1. Don’t forget “gun safety”.

        That’s another one of their new catch phrases.

        1. To be fair, they’re great at muddying the waters by getting away with stealing words and symbolism.

          Brought to you by: Liberalism, the color blue, and abolitionism.

      2. Where the fuck did this idea that semi-automatic is another made-up bullshit word like “assault weapon” come from? I’ve seen it repeated here several times, and it’s annoying me because you’re sounding as ill-informed as the fucking antis.

        1. He may be referring to the media’s tactic of blurring the distinction between semiautomatic and fully automatic weapons. It doesn’t help that decades ago, semiautomatic used to be called automatic (hence 380 Auto, 45 ACP, etc).

        2. It’s the term used to define the guns to be made illegal. They need to “ban semi-automatic weapons” which are “assault weapons” that are “military style” and shouldn’t be used by civilians.

          The other two fluff terms that mean whatever is politically expedient. The fact that they are working “semi-automatic” into their repertoire tells you what will be banned should they ever have the power to create and pass a gun control regulation: Everything that’s not a double-action revolver or breech-loading shotgun.

          1. I doubt they will be going after muzzle-loaders for a while.

            1. Maybe not, but they will go after lever-action as “repeating rifles” and bolt-action as “high-power sniper rifles”.

    2. My copy of the Second Amendment contains no qualifications that allow the RKBA to be “infringed” even with “reasonable” regulations.

      My copy of the Constitution only specifically bars Piracy, Counterfeiting, and Treason as crimes directly.

      Nothing about criminally negligent use of an assault woodchipper.

  6. This is the Some American Civil Liberties Union?

    1. No, it’s the American Some Civil Liberties Union

  7. There is no constitutional bar to reasonable regulation of guns

    au contraire

    and lol reasonable

  8. “Had we realized back then that it could be used to grab guns we never would have sued over the list.”

  9. The American Civil Liberties Union apparently hates guns more than it hates arbitrary government-enforced discrimination.

    That isn’t apparent at all. The ACLU has gone on record as opposing the no-fly list as currently administered, but hasn’t had time to take an organizational position on a proposal that’s only recently been brought to the fore of the nation’s consciousness. The staff of the national office doesn’t have the authority to take such a position. Presumably they have a convention or a board of directors who will have to meet and consider the question. And when and if they do, if they come out in favor of Obama’s proposal while continuing to oppose the non-fly list, *then* you can rightly charge them with inconsistency.

    1. The ACLU has long been Constitutionally inconsistent on gun rights compared to other rights that they just happen to like better.

    2. Directly from the ACLU’s site:

      Given the reference to “a well regulated Militia” and “the security of a free State,” the ACLU has long taken the position that the Second Amendment protects a collective right rather than an individual right.

      In striking down Washington D.C.’s handgun ban by a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court’s decision in D.C. v. Heller held for the first time that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, whether or not associated with a state militia. The ACLU disagrees with the Supreme Court’s conclusion about the nature of the right protected by the Second Amendment.”


      So, the ACLU’s position is that the Supreme Court is wrong and grants too much individual liberty with respect to the 2nd Amendment.

      1. There is, of course, no such things as a “collective” rights.

        Rights are inherently individual in nature.

      2. the ACLU has long taken the position that the Second Amendment protects a collective right rather than an individual right

        This is so fucking stupid. They’re basically arguing for the existence of a police state and standing armies that they believe violate civil liberties on a daily basis.

        Goes to show, once again, that progressive ideology is all about moving the goal posts and securing power for favored classes rather than protecting individual liberties for all.

        1. The couple of Proggie friends I have left use the “it’s a collective right not individual” argument all the time, and I constantly remind them that

          1: all of the other Amendments in the BOR enumerate individual rights and 2: Why would the government put it in a document that they have the right to create a military?

          In a document about individual rights, why would the government throw in a reminder that it can form and regulate a military?

          This is the dumbest shit, and I keep having to bring it up. I can’t tell if they don’t understand my point or if they just don’t care.

          1. Why would the term “THE PEOPLE” have a different meaning in this Amendment than all other uses in the Constitution and Amendments?

            1. FYTW, I believe.

          2. This “it’s a collective right” business is ridiculous along with another favorite prog assertion that the founders didn’t mean for individuals to possess guns and be the militia. They think the militia stems from the government. I’ve heard many progs say the National Guard is the militia. However, George Mason answered the question of who composes the militia and therefore should be armed:

            “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.”
            ? George Mason, in Debates in Virginia Convention on Ratification of the Constitution, Elliot, Vol. 3, June 16, 1788

  10. It must be painful to the ACLU’s balls, straddling the fence like that.

    1. Hopefully it’s one of those old split rail fences as well – ball splinters!

  11. Soave, it is nasty but it is not hypocritical. The ACLU does not believe possessing firearms is a right. It is not inconsistent to not defend something whose existence you do not believe in.

    1. The ACLU is being hypocritical in it’s Constitutional interpretation by claiming the 2nd means less that what it literally says regarding individual freedom while taking the position that the First Amendment means far more than what it literally says.

      If any Amendment must be interpreted in the most broad manner possible with regard to individual freedom then so must they all be to literally the exact same degree regardless of what the nature of the right is about.

      1. Beat me to it.

  12. Robby, I don’t see a story here. Or a contradiction.

    “”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….”

    Presumably, the “major reform” is getting the list in order per the ACLU’s lawsuit. Fix the list, then use it as a gun control measure. I’m opposed to both of these, but where’s the contradiction?

    1. “”We don’t have a position on the legislation in question, but ? have many criticisms of the overall watchlisting system as it currently operates,”

      Since the legislation adds gun control to the current watch listing system, that seems pretty contradictory.

    2. I think the contradiction is that they want to apply much of the bill of rights in a way that’s skeptical of governmental authority, yet for one specific part of the bill of rights – the second amendment – they want to read it narrowly so as to leave considerable power to the government.

      1. I don’t think 2nd Amendment gun rights is the only enumerated right the ACLU likes to denigrate.

        I don’t recall them ever engaging in a vigorous defense of 5th Amendment private property rights.

        1. Nope. The institute of justice handles all those cases.

  13. As far as I can find out the “Terrorist Watch List” being proposed for gun control is different from the “No Fly List”. The “terrorist Watch List” appears to be even more secretive and even more abusive of Due Process. Maybe that is why the ACLU can be so TWO FACED about gun control!

    1. Where’s Batman?!

    2. The original proposals they floated were for the terror watch list to be used, but they’ve pulled back to using the no-fly list now. Obama’s speech last night mentioned the no-fly list, not the watch list.

  14. In other words, the ACLU wants to see the no-fly list retained but focused on the denial of guns. They don’t see gun ownership as an individual right (it’s on their website) and, consequently, see no need to defend gun rights. Our interests often cross but, when it comes down to it, they’re leftists. You know, scum.

    1. Re-label it the no-gun list and they’ll be perfectly happy.

      As for their claim that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect an individual right, I would counter that there is no right to fly mentioned anywhere in the Bill of Rights, individual or otherwise.

  15. Due process means the government can’t legally deprive anyone of life, liberty or property without due process of law, meaning a court order or conviction in court after a fair public trial. And it doesn’t just apply to American citizens — the Bill of Rights is a list of restrictions on the government, not a grant of privileges to Americans. The government can’t legally restrict the right of anyone to travel by airplane or to own a firearm without following due process of law.

  16. So when they come to collect our guns (except for the ones that were stolen/damaged beyond repair/lost in the flood) it’ll be because the new and improved “terrorist watch list” will be greatly expanded by the addition of all of the people who are registered gun owners, holders of federal firearms licenses, concealed carry permit holders, etc. You know, the kinds of unstable headcases that we must disarm for the greater good. And the childrenz.

    Well, as long as the ACLU signs off on it we should all be happy that our rights are being safeguarded by those tireless defenders of liberty.

  17. Q: How does an ACLU lawyer count to 10?

    A: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

    1. Too many 9’s.

      1. Abortion falls under the 9th, so I’ll give them that one.

        1. Nope, SCOTUS declined to affirm the circuit court’s 9th amendment ruling.

  18. The ACLU Supporting rights for Atheists, Communists, Liberals, and Unions only.

    Really the ACLU is hypocritical on so many issues, what was once a civil liberties organization is now just a lefty advocacy group with no care for civil liberties. So many cases of hypocrisy in the last 15 years. It’s such a shame but at least we still have IJ

  19. Dude that does not make a whole lot of sense to me man.


  20. The ACLU began life as the legal defense arm of the Communist Party of the USA. Founder Roger Nash Baldwin had this to say about civil rights in 1934 –

    I believe in non-violent methods of struggle as most effective in the long run for building up successful working class power. Where they cannot be followed or where they are not even permitted by the ruling class, obviously only violent tactics remain. I champion civil liberty as the best of the non-violent means of building the power on which workers’ rule must be based. If I aid the reactionaries to get free speech now and then, if I go outside the class struggle to fight against censorship, it is only because those liberties help to create a more hospitable atmosphere for working class liberties. The class struggle is the central conflict of the world; all others are incidental. When that power of the working class is once achieved, as it has been only in the Soviet Union, I am for maintaining it by any means whatever. Dictatorship is the obvious means in a world of enemies, at home and abroad. I dislike it in principle as dangerous to its own objects. But the Soviet Union has already created liberties far greater than exist elsewhere in the world.

  21. Roger Nash Baldwin cont. –

    [?] While I have some reservations about party policy in relation to internal democracy, and some criticisms of the unnecessary persecution of political opponents, the fundamentals of liberty are firmly fixed in the USSR. And they are fixed on the only ground on which liberty really matters ? economic. No class to exploit the workers and peasants; wide sharing of control in the economic organizations; and the wealth produced is common property.

    1. Clearly that guy had never been to the actual Soviet Union. At most he might have seen a Potemkin village, but he never got away from his handlers.

  22. We need more articles about Justin Amash!

  23. Inconsistency is proof positive of an inferior intellect.
    ACLU is inconsistent.
    Run by inferior intellects.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.