Gun Control

Susan Collins' 'No Fly, No Buy' Bill Takes Away Gun Rights Based on Secret Criteria

The Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act relies on an FBI standard we are not allowed to know.


Office of Susan Collins

Yesterday Susan Collins' "no fly, no buy" gun control bill survived a Senate motion to table it. That does not mean the Maine Republican's proposal will get an actual vote, let alone that it will be enacted. Civil libertarians should hope it isn't. Although Collins' Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act is not as bad as a defeated amendment proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would have given the Justice Department broad power to block gun purchases based on scant evidence, it still would deprive people of their Second Amendment rights without due process. 

Instead of covering anyone the attorney general deems "a threat to public safety" based on a "reasonable suspicion" of involvement in terrorism, as Feinstein's bill did, Collins' amendment focuses on the FBI's "no fly" list, which includes people barred from air travel within the United States, and the "selectee" list, which includes people who must undergo additional screening before flying. Americans or legal residents whose gun purchases are blocked can ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to intervene, in which case the government will prevail if it meets one of two permissive tests.

Under the more demanding test, which corresponds to people on the no-fly list, the Justice Department has to show, "based on the totality of the circumstances," that the would-be gun buyer "represents a threat to public safety based on a reasonable suspicion that the transferee or applicant is engaged, or has been engaged, in conduct constituting, in preparation of, in aid of, or related to terrorism, or providing material support or resources therefor." The DOJ also has to show, "based on credible information," that the rejected gun buyer "poses a threat" of carrying out a terrorist attack. In theory, the latter requirement, which Feinstein's bill did not include, means an old lady who gave money to a Hamas-affiliated charity (thereby "providing material support" for terrorism) would still be allowed to buy a handgun for self-defense unless there was "credible information" that she might also use the gun to hijack an airplane or attack a shopping mall. But it's not clear what counts as "credible information" in this context, and it seems likely that the appeals court, with innocent lives notionally at stake, would err on the side of upholding the attorney general's decision. That's assuming the old lady manages to file an appeal within 60 days, which means laying out money for a lawyer that she will get back only if she wins.

The other acceptable rationale for taking away someone's right to keep and bear arms is both more straightforward and more mysterious. The Justice Department can beat an appeal by showing that "the standard has been met for including the transferee or applicant on the Selectee List," the one that entails extra screening rather than a blanket ban on air travel. And what is that standard? Collins' bill does not say, and neither does the FBI, but we can safely assume it is weaker than the standard for the no-fly list. Presumably the D.C. Circuit would be privy to the FBI's secret criteria if it had to decide whether a petitioner met them, and that information might also be shared with the petitioner's lawyer, assuming he had the proper security clearance.

Surely the Justice Department, given the choice between a more demanding standard and a less demanding one, would choose the latter every time, meaning the security of our Second Amendment rights would hinge on criteria we are not allowed to know. We do know that innocent people can be mistakenly placed on the selectee list (or confused with people on the list, which in practice amounts to the same thing). The ACLU estimates that the no-fly and selectee lists "contain the names of many thousands of innocent Americans" (which seems inconsistent with Collins' claim that the total number of Americans on the two lists is around 2,700). Once your name is on the selectee list, getting excused from the resulting hassle is no small feat, even for famous politicians such as the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). Yes, that is the same John Lewis who was recently seen at a congressional "sit-in," demanding that other people facing the same predicament not only be treated like criminals when they fly but be turned away when they try to buy a gun.

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  1. Whew! I thought we might head into the weekend without ONE MORE attempt to fuck with our rights! Thanks, TEAM RED Lady!

    1. Sometimes we get things that are both stupid and evil. This is called bipartisan.

      1. I despise that word. I get angry every time I hear it spoken.

        1. Yeah all the word means is that the two TEAMS are going to both have a go at fucking you over. So unless you enjoy being spit roasted you’re not gonna like it.

      2. You got stupid in my evil! You got evil in my stupid!

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  2. Also, this is why I’m glad I already have most of the guns I’d ever want (AR15 and 1911 would be nice adds, but not really necessary), plus lots of ammo, PLUS reloading equipment.

    I figure I can hide it all pretty easily….time to work on becoming more than a prepper. Time to become….The Underground…

    1. (…1911 would be nice adds, but not really necessary..)


      Go to your room!

      You are right about the AR though. Springfield M1A1 is the way to go.

  3. All you have to do is spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars negotiating a labyrinth of regulatory rabbit holes in order to prove your innocence. Sensible people approve.

  4. Speaking of ammo, I guess I’ll go back to grabbing a hundred rounds or so every time I get the chance.

  5. It must be comforting to have unquestioning faith in government.

  6. Is this like a stress-test for the courts – to see if the Constitution still means anything?

    1. We already know the answer to that.

    2. Well, no. The law cuts courts out of that loop.

      Page 7, Line 3:
      “(B) LAWFULNESS AND CONSTITUTIONALITY.?No district court of the United States or court of appeals of the United States shall have jurisdiction to consider the lawfulness or constitutionality of this section except pursuant to a petition for review under section.”…..HR2578.pdf

  7. Yep, the mask is all the way off now and thrown to the floor. Now our “elected representatives” openly state that it’s just horrible and unthinkable that American citizens would receive due process of law from their government.

    1. The thing that amazes me is the number of people, who I would previously have said possessed a modicum of common sense, who don’t see a problem with this. I knew my in-laws were Liberals. I didn’t realize they were BRAIN DEAD Liberals.

        40 GOTO 10

        1. 50 GOTO 10

          I even clicked preview. For shame.

      2. If you don’t support due process, you aren’t a liberal. Just call progs tyrannophiles and be done with it. If they think you’re calling them furries (or whatever the reptile equivalent is), so much the better.

  8. I’m probably too young to remember, but I’ve always kind of felt like it was good for America to have a counterbalance in the USSR. (I was 12 when the USSR dissolved). Secret government lists of people who don’t have rights? Secret courts with secret standards of evidence? Punitive measures taken against those who try to leave? Those were all things that the USSR/Eastern Bloc did, and by extension, we did not. I don’t know if it was quite so black in white in practice, but I felt like the rhetoric echoed these sentiments. Now we have no counterbalance, no “them” in the “us vs them” equation, and so we become what we used to hate…

    1. I’m old enough to remember and have said the same thing many times. When we were hit with terrorist attacks back then, I don’t remember revoking civil rights being debated as a solution – only fucking commies did that shit.

      1. I’d love to agree, but the FISA was passed in ’78. Which means all those crazy people who I’d dismissed in my childhood as kooky fanatics were, to some degree, right. Turns out, the U.S. government really was setting up secret courts and really did use expose their own troops to known carcinogens and told them they’d be fine.

        So, near as I can tell, guns as well as various civil rights were under assault for a better part of the 20th Century and when guns weren’t being assaulted, the groundwork for the current state of affairs was being laid.

        I don’t mean to equivocate, the USSR was evil and we certainly were better, but acting like the existence of the USSR somehow offset or prevented people from being outright communists in this country was true for a decade at best and, even for that decade, it was largely FUD-mongering statists vs. commies.

        1. I think the Cold War at least put a lot of drag on progressive statists.

      2. “…only fucking commies did that shit.”

        Still true.

    2. Now we have no counterbalance, no “them” in the “us vs them” equation, and so we become what we used to hate…

      This kinda assumes that the people on the other side of the nuclear winter care who started it.

    3. I’m a little older than you (not much) and yeah, I feel like the Soviet Bloc was a useful counterbalance, as simplistic as it was. “See, we don’t monitor everyone’s phone calls, or kick in people’s doors in the middle of the night, because that’s something the bad guys do…”

  9. Well, we have to do SOMETHING! Why do you want to help those baby-killing terrorists?

  10. Count me as another of those on the Selectee list (as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts). This is what ‘sensible gun control’ looks like.

  11. My God Collins is awful. I don’t understand why Maine keeps voting for her. If you want a complete moron as your Senator, we have this organization known as the Democratic Party who specializes in providing such. Why not go with the proven brand and just elect a Democrat?

    1. It’s New England. The Democrats-in-name there have gone full retard. Susan Collins couldn’t win an election as a Republican anywhere south of New York, but there’s no place for moderate Democrats in NE.

    2. They also elected this guy:…..s-sot.wmtw

      “Welcome to Maine, The Way Life Should Be.”

  12. The no fly list has always been the worst of government excesses. First, it makes no rational sense. If we think you are so dangerous you can’t be trusted to fly, why have you not been charged with a crime? Second, it is straight out of Kafka. Remember, the list is classified. So, the government won’t tell someone they are on it. They just won’t let them fly. So here is exactly how it plays out.

    “Sorry sir, you can’t board this plane”
    “what do you mean, I can’t board this plane?”
    “You just can’t”
    “We can’t tell you that”
    “Am I on the no fly list?”
    “We can’t tell you that either”
    “Is there a way I can clear this up and board the plane?”
    “There are procedures for getting off the no fly list, but since we can neither conform no deny that you are on the no fly list, you lack the standing to use them.”

    When I first understood how it worked, I realized Orwell was wrong. Orwell was a top man socialist who gave government officials way too much credit for their rationality and ability to accomplish their goals. No, the future is not 1984. It is The Trial. Kafka was the one who understood the future, not Orwell.

    1. I was just thinking the same thing. We usually associate the out-of-control unaccountable regulatory system with Kafka. But here we have a Senator proposing legislation that is pure Kafka from the outset.

    2. The no-fly list doesn’t even make sense. If TSA screening actually works, then who cares if the people who get through have a visceral hatred of the US government and it’s policies and advocate violent jihad? Somehow once they’re crammed into cattle class with the rest of us they will gain superhuman strength and manage to hijack the airplane with the weapons they don’t have?

      Cat Stevens is supposedly on the no fly list. Does the US Government genuinely believe that an unarmed Cat Stevens might hijack his airplane?

      1. That too. If the screening works, what difference does it make even if the guy is a terrorist? What is he going to do, take the plane with his bare hands?

      2. Another travel “safety” gripe. Federal air marshals (FAMs) tell the airline at the last minute we’re flying on this flight. Do they sit in an open seat in coach? Nope. Aisle seat in first class. Someone who paid for their ticket and chose their seat in advance? Sucks to be you. You’re getting reassigned. Fuck the FAMs. They can go sit in the non-reclining row at the very back next to the lavs.

        1. I’d be curious to see the data – I’ve always wondered if Southwest and the other discounters get fewer air marshals than the legacy airlines with their cushy first-class seats.

        2. I’m with you on FAMs. However, the 9/11 terrorists sat in the first class (with the exception of 2 or 3 of them in coach on just one of the four planes). The 9/11 museum has the seating maps of the four planes. The idea is that if terrorists attack the cockpit, FAMs would be close to the action. Naturally, we’re fighting the last war.

    3. The times are pretty god damn insane.

  13. All this because a guy who wasn’t on any of these lists, and was an FBI approved armed guard, shot up a nightclub.

    1. I find it depressingly hilarious that the Democrats have now decided to shit their pants over terrorism* after saying that there was no reason to shit one’s pants over terrorism.

      * = Yes I know that’s not what this is really about

    2. It’s never been about stopping the next attack. They look forward to the next attack to get another excuse to chip away at our rights.

      1. The fact that he wasn’t on a list just proves the need for more broad lists and more restrictions on those people on those lists..

        It is Kafka all the way down.

        1. Basic government ratchet. Failure? Need more of x.

          Never WTF are we doing x.

          And fuck Collins. I hope she suck starts a woodchipper.

    3. And because all kinds of people in the Political Class desperately, DESPERATELY, don’t want to discuss the fact that this mass shooting, like almost all the others, took place in a designated “No Guns” zone. See, if folks start to question the utility of the “No Guns Zone” laws, the next thing you know they’ll start questioning “No Drug” zones, and then the “War on Drugs”, and before you know it they will be expecting the government to concentrate on boring stuff like keeping the roadways passable, and delivering the goddamned mail. And being a member of the Political Class will return to its rightful level of social importance; slightly (but only slightly) higher than dogcatcher.

      1. It was in a “gun free zone”, like nearly all of them, and it was done by a radical Muslim. Our entire political class both left and right lives with the religious conviction that no good ever comes from an armed citizenry and Islam is not a cause of terrorism and violence (poverty and oppression and ‘blowback” cause terrorism). So, they have no way of responding intelligently to this incident. In their world view, it should not have happened. Mass shootings should only happen at gun shows and be perpetrated by angry white men who are members of the militia movement or by two people who got in a fist fight and lost their tempers.

    4. All this because a guy who wasn’t on any of these lists, and was an FBI approved armed guard, shot up a nightclub.

      Technically, it’s because 19 guys who blew up several buildings, both private and Federal, weren’t on a list of 16 people designated as ‘No transport’ for air carriers by the FedGov.

  14. So, it has come to this.

  15. Susan Collins: a Rockefeller Republican.

    1. Just like the LP VP candidate.

  16. I’m hoping Texit becomes a thing.

    I have a large backyard, and will accept commentariat refugees. I’m sure some of you are good people.

    1. But does your yard have enough room for my orphan-built-and-operated smelter?

  17. This stupid cunt is a republican? No doubt like most of the political class, and reason magazine, and a good portion of the commentariat, she has no clue how Trump came to be.

    And if this cunt calls herself a conservative, she should be fucking impeached. Just exactly what the fuck are you trying to conserve you stupid cunt?

  18. And if this cunt calls herself a conservative, she should be fucking impeached.

    I don’t think she considers herself to be a conservative. She’s concerned. She seeks bipartisan consensus and thoughtful compromise; the kind that makes your ass hurt.

    1. bipartisan consensus and thoughtful compromise

      Yes, compromise and cooperation between left and right. Like the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.

  19. We have to do SOMETHING.


    The only thing worse than doing SOMETHING is doing nothing at all.

  20. The ACLU estimates that the no-fly and selectee lists “contain the names of many thousands of innocent Americans” (which seems inconsistent with Collins’ claim that the total number of Americans on the two lists is around 2,700)

    The No-Fly list by itself contains 2700 people (*or that’s the accepted number the last time it was revealed, which was like 7 years ago); ~half of those are Americans; it isn’t changed very often

    The “Selectee” list contains many thousands – between 15-20K – and is constantly being changed/updated.

    You’d get most of your ‘many thousand innocent americans’ from the latter. I was on it once.

    I know its friday, but it takes 2 seconds to google shit, Ed.

  21. you shouldn’t have to go to court to practice a right. I always thought the constitution said the government must prove guilt but In these cases you have to prove your innocent first.

  22. Ask Collins what constitutional argument, if any, she has against apartheid-era banning orders in South Africa.

  23. This site says Kennedy on the No Fly List is just a complicated myth:…..list-myth/

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    2. the former Democratic senator from Massachusetts was “NOT on the no-fly or selectee lists.” Kennedy was “misidentified” as someone on the “selectee list.” Those on the selectee list “must undergo additional security screening before being permitted to board.” Kennedy ultimately boarded his flights and didn’t miss any flights.

      See, its sort of like how there was no “Stand Down” order in Benghazi. They were ordered to *wait for further instructions*, which is not the same as being ordered to do nothing.

      Ted Kennedy was not himself on this list; his *name* was, which caused him to be harassed and delayed. No mistakes were made.

      1. And of course Ted Kennedy‘s being un-misidentified in time to board his flight has nothing to do with him being a ranking member of the Kennedy clan and a sitting U.S. Senator, and having name recognition out the wazoo. Any of us would receive the same consideration, am I right?

    3. Also, and Politifact tell the truth, and do not apply either exculpatory or damning rationalizations depending on their partisan bias.

  24. The FBI link is fairly old. The newest version on the FBI website is here:

    Some assembly of link is required.

  25. You have to pass the bill before never finding out what’s in it

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  27. RE: Susan Collins’ ‘No Fly, No Buy’ Bill Takes Away Gun Rights Based on Secret Criteria
    The Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act relies on an FBI standard we are not allowed to know.

    Our socialist slavers trying to take away our guns because some of us are on a “secret list?”
    That can’t be right.
    The State would never do that.
    The State always works in the best interest of the little people.
    The State has said so many times.
    The State would never lie.

  28. I hope her criteria includes anyone on Super-Secret Probation from Faber College?


  30. Let’s hope the Federal gun grabbers continue to blow their loads on unconstitutional measures which will be thrown out entirely before they have any significant impact.

    1. Unless they get to appoint a couple of SCOTUS justices.

  31. Collin’s Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act relies on “preponderance” of the evidence rather than the stricter “beyond a reasonable doubt. Preponderance is the standard in civil trials where no incarceration for the losing party in a lawsuit is involved. Not only will prospective gun purchasers be caught up in this conundrum but also CCW permit and FOID card holders when their permits come up for renewal and they under go background checks again.
    Another unfavorable feature of the TFPA is an appeal must be filed withing 60 days and filed in the District of Columbia federal district court which tends to lean favorably towards the government in it’s rulings. Convenient for the Justice Dept which won’t have to defend appeals all over the country but very inconvenient and expensive for anyone filing an appeal from anywhere outside the District.
    A strong deterrent for the innocent thousands who will be ensnared simply because they have the same name as one on the No Fly List. One must keep in mind that the NFL has no other identifying information, picture, Social Security number, drivers license number and photo, address, anything that differentiates two or more individuals with the same name. It took months for well known Sen. Ted Kennedy to get his name off the list and years for Rep John Lewis to have his name expunged.
    In all, the TFPA is heavily weighted against gun owners and prospective gun owners.

  32. “which means laying out money for a lawyer that she will get back only if she wins.”

    The State doesnt issue refunds for lawyers fees when you win a case.

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