Labeling NRA Members 'Terrorists' Has Unintended Consequences

The tragic shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and injured hundreds was followed by the usual finger-pointing in Washington. Politicians huddle in their respective corners, as Democrats demand action on gun control and Republicans point to the Second Amendment. Both sides accuse the other of politicizing a tragedy, of dishonoring the victims and of failing to keep Americans safe.

While the routine remains the same, folks on the left have increasingly pushed to call tragedies such as Dylan Roof’s shooting and abortion clinic shootings “terrorism,” even while the suspects are not affiliated with a terrorist group such as the Islamic State. This irony is not lost on those on the right, who berated President Obama for saying that ISIS represented “violent extremism” instead of the right’s preferred terminology “radical Islamic terrorism.” It almost seems humorous that, for years, ISIS was considered a mere “extremist group” by people on the same side of the political aisle as those now referring to the National Rifle Association as a terrorist organization.

Gun control advocates have attacked the entity that they believe has prevented stricter gun laws.

Rather than only recycling the regular talking points following a shooting---that is, demanding more gun control immediately---gun control advocates have attacked the entity that they believe has prevented stricter gun laws: the National Rifle Association. Labeling the NRA as a terrorist group and implying that its supporters are somehow terrorists would be laughable if its implications weren’t so immense.

As Rep. Jim Himes, a Democrat representing Connecticut’s Fourth district, noted on Twitter, “Now we're obsessing over whether the NV carnage was "terrorism". If we decide it is, we'll mobilize untold resources. If not, nothing.”

Himes, whose district contains Sandy Hook Elementary School, is correct. Labeling an act, a group, or an individual with the label “terrorism” triggers more government action, surveillance and suppression.

Though it’s unlikely that the NRA and its members will ever be formally labeled as a terrorist group, labeling every mass shooter as a “domestic terrorist” will give government agencies more power to put more people under surveillance. The media has honed in on the fact that the Las Vegas shooter had 23 guns in his hotel room. People are asking themselves, why would a normal person need so many guns? Why shouldn’t the government investigate people who own a lot of guns, or make large firearm purchases?

Calling every domestic shooter a terrorist will not prevent mass shootings.

The simple answer is that government agencies will end up monitoring many innocent people without preventing any tragedies. Recreational hunters and gun aficionados are not terrorists. The desire to buy and own guns does not make a person a psychopath or a murderer. The desire to use weapons to harm and kill other people makes a person a murderer or a psychopath. Labeling the Las Vegas shooter as a terrorist when the only thing that we know for sure about him was that he owned a lot of guns does not make sense. As far as we know, he hadn’t pledged his support to a recognized terrorist group like ISIS or even any domestic white supremacist group. He doesn’t appear to have been a religious man or an ideological one. Authorities are still searching for his motive.

Calling every domestic shooter a terrorist will not prevent mass shootings. It will only give government agencies more latitude to monitor non-violent individuals and political groups. If the Las Vegas shooting was classified as “terrorism,” the Justice Department would have broad authority to investigate any people or groups associated with the suspect.

Given that the PATRIOT Act allows the FBI to obtain phone records, bank records, and computer records without a judge’s approval, the feds could legally monitor people without a criminal record simply because they live an odd lifestyle or own loads of hunting rifles. Or the government could begin to watch high-stakes gamblers more closely, simply because the Las Vegas shooter was a gambler. Surveillance of these groups could extend to any controversial political group, such as Black Lives Matter, which critics claim fomented the killing of five Dallas police officers last year. The government could monitor pro-life groups or Christian groups on the basis of abortion clinic shootings.

Expanding the definition of terrorism will only impede on the civil liberties of ordinary people.

The FBI already has abused the surveillance powers it has to monitor domestic groups, demonstrating that it does not have the self-restraint to only investigate violent activities. The FBI monitored Martin Luther King Jr., an avowed pacifist during the Civil Rights movement. More recently, the FBI has investigated anti-war activists and environmental groups such as Greenpeace. The FBI will take a mile when given a mere inch to investigate any group even remotely linked to violence in the United States.

Expanding the definition of terrorism will only impede on the civil liberties of ordinary people trying to live their lives. Using “terrorism” as a fast-and-loose term for any form of violence not only blurs the distinction between domestic ideologues and foreign terrorist groups, but also grants government bureaucrats increased latitude to negatively impact the lives of law-abiding citizens.

Amelia Irvine is a Young Voices Advocate studying government and economics at Georgetown University. You can follow her on Twitter at @ameliairvine3.


In light of the national conversation surrounding the rights of free speech, religion and self-defense, Mercury One is thrilled to announce a brand new initiative launching this Father's Day weekend: a three-day museum exhibition in Dallas, Texas focused on the rights and responsibilities of American citizens.

This event seeks to answer three fundamental questions:

  1. As Americans, what responsibility do we shoulder when it comes to defending our rights?
  2. Do we as a nation still agree on the core principles and values laid out by our founding fathers?
  3. How can we move forward amidst uncertainty surrounding the intent of our founding ideals?

Attendees will be able to view historical artifacts and documents that reveal what has made America unique and the most innovative nation on earth. Here's a hint: it all goes back to the core principles and values this nation was founded on as laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Exhibits will show what the world was like before mankind had rights and how Americans realized there was a better way to govern. Throughout the weekend, Glenn Beck, David Barton, Stu Burguiere, Doc Thompson, Jeffy Fisher and Brad Staggs will lead private tours through the museum, each providing their own unique perspectives on our rights and responsibilities.

Schedule a private tour or purchase general admission ticket below:

June 15-17


Mercury Studios

6301 Riverside Drive, Irving, TX 75039

Learn more about the event here.

About Mercury One: Mercury One is a 501(c)(3) charity founded in 2011 by Glenn Beck. Mercury One was built to inspire the world in the same way the United States space program shaped America's national destiny and the world. The organization seeks to restore the human spirit by helping individuals and communities help themselves through honor, faith, courage, hope and love. In the words of Glenn Beck:

We don't stand between government aid and people in need. We stand with people in need so they no longer need the government

Some of Mercury One's core initiatives include assisting our nation's veterans, providing aid to those in crisis and restoring the lives of Christians and other persecuted religious minorities. When evil prevails, the best way to overcome it is for regular people to do good. Mercury One is committed to helping sustain the good actions of regular people who want to make a difference through humanitarian aid and education initiatives. Mercury One will stand, speak and act when no one else will.

Support Mercury One's mission to restore the human spirit by making an online donation or calling 972-499-4747. Together, we can make a difference.

What happened?

A New York judge ruled Tuesday that a 30-year-old still living in his parents' home must move out, CNN reported.

Failure to launch …

Michael Rotondo, who had been living in a room in his parents' house for eight years, claims that he is owed a six-month notice even though they gave him five notices about moving out and offered to help him find a place and to help pay for repairs on his car.

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“I think the notice is sufficient," New York State Supreme Court Judge Donald Greenwood said.

What did the son say?

Rotondo “has never been expected to contribute to household expenses, or assisted with chores and the maintenance of the premises, and claims that this is simply a component of his living agreement," he claimed in court filings.

He told reporters that he plans to appeal the “ridiculous" ruling.

Reform Conservatism and Reaganomics: A middle road?

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Senator Marco Rubio broke Republican ranks recently when he criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by stating that “there's no evidence whatsoever that the money's been massively poured back into the American worker." Rubio is wrong on this point, as millions of workers have received major raises, while the corporate tax cuts have led to a spike in capital expenditure (investment on new projects) of 39 percent. However, the Florida senator is revisiting an idea that was front and center in the conservative movement before Donald Trump rode down an escalator in June of 2015: reform conservatism.

RELATED: The problem with asking what has conservatism conserved

The "reformicons," like Rubio, supported moving away from conservative or supply-side orthodoxy and toward policies such as the expansion of the child and earned income tax credits. On the other hand, longstanding conservative economic theory indicates that corporate tax cuts, by lowering disincentives on investment, will lead to long-run economic growth that will end up being much more beneficial to the middle class than tax credits.

But asking people to choose between free market economic orthodoxy and policies guided towards addressing inequality and the concerns of the middle class is a false dichotomy.

Instead of advocating policies that many conservatives might dismiss as redistributionist, reformicons should look at the ways government action hinders economic opportunity and exacerbates income inequality. Changing policies that worsen inequality satisfies limited government conservatives' desire for free markets and reformicons' quest for a more egalitarian America. Furthermore, pushing for market policies that reduce the unequal distribution of wealth would help attract left-leaning people and millennials to small government principles.

Criminal justice reform is an area that reformicons and free marketers should come together around. The drug war has been a disaster, and the burden of this misguided government approach have fallen on impoverished minority communities disproportionately, in the form of mass incarceration and lower social mobility. Not only has the drug war been terrible for these communities, it's proved costly to the taxpayer––well over a trillion dollars has gone into the drug war since its inception, and $80 billion dollars a year goes into mass incarceration.

Prioritizing retraining and rehabilitation instead of overcriminalization would help address inequality, fitting reformicons' goals, and promote a better-trained workforce and lower government spending, appealing to basic conservative preferences.

Government regulations tend to disproportionately hurt small businesses and new or would-be entrepreneurs. In no area is this more egregious than occupational licensing––the practice of requiring a government-issued license to perform a job. The percentage of jobs that require licenses has risen from five percent to 30 percent since 1950. Ostensibly justified by public health concerns, occupational licensing laws have, broadly, been shown to neither promote public health nor improve the quality of service. Instead, they serve to provide a 15 percent wage boost to licensed barbers and florists, while, thanks to the hundreds of hours and expensive fees required to attain the licenses, suppressing low-income entrepreneurship, and costing the economy $200 billion dollars annually.

Those economic losses tend to primarily hurt low-income people who both can't start businesses and have to pay more for essential services. Rolling back occupational licenses will satisfy the business wing's desire for deregulation and a more free market and the reformicons' support for addressing income inequality and increasing opportunity.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality.

Tax expenditures form another opportunity for common ground between the Rubio types and the mainstream. Tax deductions and exclusions, both on the individual and corporate sides of the tax code, remain in place after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Itemized deductions on the individual side disproportionately benefit the wealthy, while corporate tax expenditures help well-connected corporations and sectors, such as the fossil fuel industry.

The favoritism at play in the complex tax code perpetuates inequality. Additionally, a more complicated tax code is less conducive to economic growth than one with lower tax rates and fewer exemptions. Therefore, a simpler tax code with fewer deductions and exclusions would not only create a more level playing field, as the reformicons desire, but also additional economic growth.

A forward-thinking economic program for the Republican Party should marry the best ideas put forward by both supply-siders and reform conservatives. It's possible to take the issues of income inequality and lack of social mobility seriously, while also keeping mainstay conservative economic ideas about the importance of less cumbersome regulations and lower taxes.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate studying economics at Tufts University. He is a contributor for Lone Conservative, and his writing has appeared in Townhall and The Daily Caller. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Is this what inclusivity and tolerance look like? Fox News host Tomi Lahren was at a weekend brunch with her mom in Minnesota when other patrons started yelling obscenities and harassing her. After a confrontation, someone threw a drink at her, the moment captured on video for social media.

RELATED: Glenn Addresses Tomi Lahren's Pro-Choice Stance on 'The View'

On today's show, Pat and Jeffy talked about this uncomfortable moment and why it shows that supposedly “tolerant" liberals have to resort to physical violence in response to ideas they don't like.