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.


Here's a question unique to our times: "Should I tell my father 'Happy Father's Day,' even though he (she?) is now one of my mothers?"

Father's Day was four days ago, yes, but this story is just weird enough to report on. One enjoyable line to read was this gem from Hollywood Gossip: "Cait is a woman and a transgender icon, but she is also and will always be the father of her six children."

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Imagine reading that to someone ten — even five — years ago. And, honestly, there's something nice about it. But the strangeness of its having ever been written overpowers any emotional impact it might bring.

"So lucky to have you," wrote Kylie Jenner, in the Instagram caption under pre-transition pictures of Bruce Jenner.

Look. I risk sounding like a tabloid by mere dint of having even mentioned this story, but the important element is the cultural sway that's occurring. The original story was that a band of disgruntled Twitter users got outraged about the supposed "transphobic" remarks by Jenner's daughter.

But, what we should be saying is, "who the hell cares?" Who cares what one Jenner says to another — and more importantly and on a far deeper level — who cares what some anonymous Twitter user has to say?

When are we going to stop playing into the hands of the Twitter mob?

When are we going to stop playing into the hands of the Twitter mob? Because, at the moment, they've got it pretty good. They have a nifty relationship with the mainstream media: One or two Twitter users get outraged by any given thing — in this case Jenner and supposed transphobia. In return, the mainstream media use the Twitter comment as a source.

Then, a larger Twitter audience points to the article itself as proof that there's some kind of systemic justice at play. It's a closed-market currency, where the negative feedback loop of proof and evidence is composed of faulty accusations. Isn't it a hell of a time to be alive?

These days, when Americans decide to be outraged about something, we really go all out.

This week's outrage is, of course, the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy toward illegal immigration along the southern border. Specifically, people are upset over the part of the policy that separates children from their parents when the parents get arrested.

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Lost in all the outrage is that the President is being proactive about border security and is simply enforcing the law. Yes, we need to figure out a less clumsy, more compassionate way of enforcing the law, but children are not being flung into dungeons and fed maggots as the media would have you believe.

But having calm, reasonable debates about these things isn't the way it's done anymore. You have to make strong, sweeping announcements so the world knows how righteous your indignation is.

That's why yesterday, the governors of Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut declared they are withholding or recalling their National Guard troops from the U.S.-Mexico border until this policy of separating children from their parents is rescinded.

Adding to the media stunt nature of this entire "crisis," it turns out this defiant announcement from these five governors is mostly symbolic. Because two months ago, when President Trump called for 4,000 additional National Guard troops to help patrol the border, large numbers of troops were not requested from those five states. In fact, no troops were requested at all from Rhode Island. But that didn't stop Rhode Island's Democratic governor, Gina Raimondo, from announcing she would refuse to send troops if she were asked. She called the family separation policy, "immoral, unjust and un-American."

There's so much outrage, we're running short on adjectives.

The governors of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York all used the word "inhumane" in their statements condemning the Trump administration policy. There's so much outrage, we're running short on adjectives.

In a totally unrelated coincidence, four of these five governors are running for re-election this year.

I've made my position clear — separating these children from their parents is a bad policy and we need to stop. We need to treat these immigrants with the kind of compassion we'd want for our own children. And I said the same thing in 2014 when no one cared about the border crisis.

If consistency could replace even just a sliver of the outrage in America, we would all be a lot better off.

I think we can all agree, both on the Left and the Right, that children who have been caught up in illegal immigration is an awful situation. But apparently what no one can agree on is when it matters to them. This past weekend, it suddenly — and even a little magically — began to matter to the Left. Seemingly out of nowhere, they all collectively realized this was a problem and all rushed to blame the Trump administration.

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Here's Rachel Maddow yesterday:

I seem to remember getting mocked by the Left for showing emotion on TV, but I'll give her a pass here. This is an emotional situation. But this is what I can't give her a pass on: where the heck was this outrage and emotion back in 2014? Because the same situation going on today — that stuff Maddow and the rest of the Left have only just now woken up to — was going on back in July 2014! And it was arguably worse back then.

I practically begged and pleaded for people to wake up to what was going on. We had to shed light on how our immigration system was being manipulated by people breaking our laws, and they were using kids as pawns to get it done. But unlike the gusto the Left is using now to report this story, let's take a look at what Rachel Maddow thought was more important back in 2014.

On July 1, 2014, Maddow opened her show with a riveting monologue on how President Obama was hosting a World Cup viewing party. That's hard-hitting stuff right there.

On July 2, 2014, Maddow actually acknowledged kids were at the border, but she referenced Health and Human Services only briefly and completely rushed through what was actually happening to these kids. She made a vague statement about a "policy" stating where kids were being taken after their arrival. She also blamed Congress for not acting.

See any difference in reporting there from today? That "policy" she referenced has suddenly become Trump's "new" policy, and it isn't Congress's fault… it's all on the President.

She goes on throughout the week.

On July 7, 2014, her top story was something on the Koch brothers. Immigration was only briefly mentioned at the end of the show. This trend continued all the way through the week. I went to the border on July 19. Did she cover it? Nope. In fact, she didn't mention kids at the border for the rest of the month. NOT AT ALL.

Do you care about immigrant kids who have been caught in the middle of a broken immigration system or not?

Make up your minds. Is this an important issue or not? Do you care about immigrant kids who have been caught in the middle of a broken immigration system or not? Do you even care to fix it, or is this what it looks like — just another phony, addicted-to-outrage political stunt?

UPDATE: Here's how this discussion went on radio. Watch the video below.

Glenn gives Rachel Maddow the benefit of the doubt

Rachel Maddow broke down in tears live on her MSNBC show over border crisis.

Progressives think the Obamas are a gift to the world. But their gift is apparently more of the metaphorical kind. It doesn't extend to helpful, tangible things like saving taxpayers money. Illinois has approved $224 million to pay for street and transportation upgrades around the planned site of the Obama Presidential Center. The catch is that Illinois taxpayers will have to cover $200 million of that cost. For a presidential museum.

Eight years of multiplying the national debt wasn't enough for Barack Obama. Old fleecing habits die hard. What's another $200 million here and there, especially for something as important as an Obama tribute center?

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That's all well and good except Illinois can't even fund its pension system. The state has a $137 billion funding shortfall. That means every person in Illinois owes $11,000 for pensions, and there is no plan to fix the mess. Unless Illinois progressives have discovered a new kind of math, this doesn't really add up. You can't fund pensions, but you're going to figure out a way to milk the public for another $200 million to help cover the cost of a library?

It's hard to imagine who in their right mind would think this will be money well spent. Well, except for maybe Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel who said, "The state's… investment in infrastructure improvements near the Obama Center on the South Side of Chicago is money well spent."

Some presidential overreach lasts longer than others.

The spending has already been signed into law, even though the Obama library has not received construction approval yet. Part of the holdup is that the proposed site is on public land in historic Jackson Park. That doesn't seem very progressive of the Obamas, but, you know, for certain presidents, you go above and beyond. It's just what you do. Some presidential overreach lasts longer than others.

Here's the thing about taxing the peasants so the king can build a fancy monument to himself – it's wrong. And completely unnecessary. The Obamas have the richest friends on the planet who could fund this project in their sleep. If the world simply must have a tricked-out Obama museum, then let private citizens take out their wallets voluntarily.

As the Mercury Museum proved this weekend, it is possible to build an exhibit with amazing artifacts that attracts a ton of visitors – and it cost taxpayers approximately zero dollars.