…Senate Democrats explicitly want expanded power to disarm law-abiding people. Lots of them. And it’s not hard to see how such power could be used to disarm political dissidents. We are no longer in the territory of “slippery slope” arguments.
What else can we infer from these politicians’ claims that if whatever gun confiscation measure they are currently trying to pass were in effect the Orlando shooting would have been prevented when the FBI had already interviewed the shooter twice and deemed him not to be a threat? Despite my skepticism of the FBI’s ability to perform law enforcement competently, I believe that they are right the vast majority of the time when they consider a suspect not to be a threat. After all, they have to fabricate terrorist plots in order to entrap terror suspects. So how could this legislation proposed by these senators have prevented the Orlando shooter from obtaining a gun (setting aside the issue of the efficacy of legal prohibitions in actually eradicating the availability of the prohibited item)?
The only answer is that it would have to cast a wide net that automatically excludes law-abiding people from owning a gun without any due process, necessarily including a huge number of false positives. How else could such legislation have excluded the Orlando shooter? They would have to define risk factors and make an algorithm to decide who loses their right to carry a firearm that would override decision-making by human beings in the FBI, as this case makes clear.
Furthermore, it does not take much imagination to see how such power could be used to punish/disarm political opponents and dissidents. By designating a “terrorist watch list” and making it so that those on this list are legally unable to own a gun, the federal government can disarm anyone it chooses. Do a web search of the words “Bundy” and “terrorist” and notice how many news outlets accused Cliven Bundy of being a terrorist and that, perhaps more importantly, Senator Harry Reid accused Bundy’s supporters of being terrorists. This stretches the definition of “terrorism” so far as to mean whatever the federal government wants it to mean – that is, anyone showing resistance to the will of the federal government.
Thus, I think it’s unreasonable to discount the fears of those concerned about how far the federal government will reach into people’s gun safes under the ostensible justification of public safety. Ultimately, the politicians have little to lose in terms of their own safety if they are wrong about the effects of civilian disarmament on violence – they are extremely privileged and have armed agents of the state at their beck and call regardless. And, more crucially, the effect of such expanded powers for the federal government is to take away individuals’ ability to protect themselves from the state, as demonstrated in the Bundy case.