Is the U.S. terror watch list really a valid way to tag and track extremists who may want to do harm to Americans? That question about the usefulness and impact of the federal watch list has been in the news again recently, with some saying the database should be used to deny certain Americans their Second Amendment rights.
However, if the experience of a conservative congressman from California is any indication, the integrity of this watch list is not what it’s cracked up to be.
Congressman Tom McClintock, a right-leaning Republican congressman from California, recently related the story that he — a duly elected lawmaker with no valid reason to be flagged — ended up on the government’s terrorist watch list by mistake.
In recent remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives, McClintock said that because of this flawed list, ten years ago when he was then in the California State Senate, he went to take a commercial airline flight and was told he couldn’t fly.
The congressman brought up this personal experience as a reason not to use the terror watch list as a basis to deny people the right to own a gun. He said that the list is quite inaccurate, and that’s why he himself accidentally ended up on the security rolls all those years ago.
“When I asked why, I was told I was on this government list,” McClintock said, calling the whole experience “Kafkaesque.”
“My first reaction was to ask, ‘Why am I on that list?’ ‘We can’t tell you that.’ ‘What are the criteria you use?’ I asked. ‘That’s classified.’ I said, ‘How can I get off this list?’ The answer was, ‘You can’t.’ ”
It turned out that McClintock was put on the list by mistake when his name was confused with that of a terrorist who belonged to the Irish Republican Army, a man whose name British authorities had noted as a security risk.
The congressman argues that if the list were used to deny people the right to bear arms to protect themselves, he would also have lost his own right to own a gun.
That right, McClintock insists, was the bulwark that could stand between American’s individual safety and future acts of terror. Worse, because of the restrictions in his own home state of California that possible safety measure was absent during the terror attacks in San Bernardino.
In the Californian’s estimation “many innocent lives could have been saved” if some of the victims of the bloody terror attack were armed and could have responded with deadly force.
“But Californians are subject to the most restrictive gun laws in the country, making it very difficult for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment right to defend themselves,” McClintock said on the floor of the House. “And in a society denied…