THBT Citizens on the Terrorist Screening Database should not be barred from purchasing firearms
Debate Rounds (4)
I would like to thank Amedexyius for agreeing to debate this topic with me.
Since the recent mass shootings at Sandy Hook, Pulse, and many others, there has been an influx in demands to increase gun control measures. One of these ideas is barring those on the Terrorist Screening Datatabase (also known as the no-fly list, or the terrorist watch list) from purchasing firearms.
While I agree with a number of measures that have been proposed, this idea is not one of them.
This house believes that citizens on the Terrorist Screening Database should not be barred from purchasing firearms.
Firearm - Any legal firearm.
Terrorist Screening Database - Also called the no-fly list or the TSDB. The central database used by the FBI to screen potential terrorists (1).
The burden of proof is shared. Rebuttals and Full Engagement are to be expected from both sides.
Round 1 - Acceptance
Round 2 - Opening arguments
Round 3 - Rebuttals
Round 4 - Rebuttals
Voting is open to anyone who has an ELO score of 2000 or more.
1. No forfeits - a forfeit warrants a conduct point loss
2. Citations must be provided in the text of the debate
3. R1 is for acceptance only; No new arguments in the final round
4. No trolling
5. No "kritiks" of the topic (challenging assumptions in the resolution)
6. My opponent accepts all definitions and waives his/her right to add definitions
7. The BOP is evenly shared; both debaters should affirm the desirability of their positions
8. Violation of any of these rules, or of any of the R1 set-up, merits a loss
I thank my opponent, ThingBig, for setting up this debate, which I look forward to as ThingBig is a strong debater. As by the rules, I use Round 1 for acceptance.
Once again, I'd like ot thank my opponent for accepting this challenge.
Violation of the U.S. Constitution
A bill that would bar citizens on the Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB hereafter) list from purchasing firearms would almost certainly be found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and for good reasons. Civil liberty organizations, such as the ACLU, oppose this measure due to the threat of violating the rights of innocent people. In addition to the Second Amendment on the side, there are several other rights that are guaranteed in the Constitution that will potentially be violated.
Rahinah Ibrahim, an innocent Standford professor and PhD student who was improperly placed on the list. It took her
The right to bear arms
Right to Life, Liberty and Property
Right to Confront and Call Witnesses
Right to a Speedy and Public Trial
In a letter to to the U.S. Senate, the ACLU wrote the following (1):
"We believe that the right to own and use guns is not absolute or free from government regulation since firearms are inherently dangerous instrumentalities and their use, unlike other activities protected by the Bill of Rights, can inflict serious bodily injury or death. Therefore, firearms are subject to reasonable regulation in the interests of public safety, crime prevention, maintaining the peace, environmental protection, and public health. At the same time, regulation of firearms and individual gun ownership or use must be consistent with civil liberties principles, such as due process, equal protection, freedom from unlawful searches, and privacy."
"Our nation’s watchlisting system is error-prone and unreliable because it uses vague and overbroad criteria and secret evidence to place individuals on blacklists without a meaningful process to correct government error and clear their names."
"The government contends that it can place Americans on the No Fly List who have never been charged let alone convicted of a crime, on the basis of prediction that they nevertheless pose a threat (which is undefined) of conduct that the government concedes “may or may not occur.” Criteria like these guarantee a high risk of error and it is imperative that the watchlisting system include due process safeguards—which it does not. In the context of the No Fly List, for example, the government refuses to provide even Americans who know they are on the List with the full reasons for the placement, the basis for those reasons, and a hearing before a neutral decision-maker."
Because of the secrecy of the TSDB, it is impossible to know why you are on the TSDB and defend yourself against the charges. This, in turn, shifts the burden of proof to the defendant to prove that they are not a terrorist. Consequently, if you are a citizen that has never been convicted of a crime, you risk losing a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution without due process.
In 2014, an Oregon judge ruled that the no-fly list was unconstitutional because Americans have no meaningful way to contest their inclusion (2). Judge Brown issued an opinion that stated (3):
"One need not look beyond the hardships suffered by Plaintiffs to understand the significance of the deprivation of the right to travel internationally. Due to the major burden imposed by inclusion on the No-Fly List, Plaintiffs have suffered significantly including long-term separation from spouses and children; the inability to access desired medical and prenatal care; the inability to pursue an education of their choosing; the inability to participate in important religious rites; loss of employment opportunities; loss of government entitlements; the inability to visit family; and the inability to attend important personal and family events such as graduations, weddings, and funerals. The Court concludes international travel is not a mere convenience or luxury in this modern world. Indeed, for many international travel is a necessary aspect of liberties sacred to members of a free society."
A measure to block the sale of firearms to those on the no-fly list would almost certainly be declared unconstitutional.
The TSDB is error-prone
Among the many issues with the TSDB is the fact that is full of errors. A 2009 DOJ report found that over 1/3 of names on the TSDB were outdated (4). In one recent case, Mikey Hicks, who is only 8 years old, is on the no fly list and is unable to get off the reason he is on there is because he shares a name with someone who has set off a high level of security screening (5). In another case, Rahinah Ibrahim, a Stanford professor and PhD student, was placed improperly on the list and took 8 years to get off that list (6).
The TSDB is also racist and disproportionately affects Arab-Americans and Muslims, even those who have no ties to any designated terrorist group (7).
In summar, there are good reasons why civil rights organizations oppose no-fly, no buy. Using error-prone and unfair watchlists should not be used to regulate guns in America. It violates due process, shifts the burden of proof, assumes guilt before innocence, and there are far too many mistakes on the TSDB to risk violating the right of the innocent.
Until the major errors that exist in the TSDB, it should not be used to deprive citizens of their constitutional rights.
Over to con.
2. Latif et al. v. Holder http://bit.ly...;
I thank my opponent for providing his argument. I look forward to this challenging debate, as I look at my opponent's previous debates with a worthy impression.
Increase of Terrorism Within the United States
The United States has recently suffered and is continuing to suffer multiple acts of terrorism and homegrown acts of violence, due in part by permissive gun laws . The United States, currently within such a vulnerable position, should be expected to take as many precautions necessary, even if it means making an incursion in the tolerance of government involvement within the everyday persons life. It is not a coincidence that the United States, having the most amount of guns per capita in the world , also holds the lead in most mass shootings the world sees . In the process of having a more restricted gun control system, there would be an establishment of a database and which persons within those database should have the ability to possess a firearm. The no-fly list was designed to prevent future suspected instigators of violence from obtaining the means necessary to initiate the next attack . Regardless of whether or not people believe that their civil liberties are victim of government incursions towards their un-solidified foundations of rights, the system was instituted for the purpose of protecting them. In order to help my opponent and voters visualize how powerful the recent terror attacks in the United States is, I have provided a graph below to show.
While the No-Fly system has controversies on whether it has been targeting a specific number of people within a designated ethnicity or race, instead of abolishing the system or re-arranging an entirely different sector, the program can be reformed in order to prevent innocent person of being on such a list. Other controversies accompany the database with regards to constitutional violations and unjust incursions unto civil liberties .
The format of the list not notifying the person that have been selected to be supervised in order to maintain surveillance and precautions was made in order not to alert a possible terrorist not to up their standard of secrecy and anonymity for the greater good of the country. Controversies against the No-Fly list were mostly put down, if not completely unsuccessful considering many aspects of the list within the Terrorist Database fall under new powers granted to the US government in pursuit of terrorism by the powers of the Patriot Act .
Specifically regarding Title V, of the Patriot Act in which the American congress approved stronger powers for the government, restraining rights of the individual in order to combat terrorism, including financial support, obstruction of justice, or conspiracy . Such controversy was brought up into the Supreme Court, whom did not find such powers unconstitutional although John Roberts did make statements regarding the methods taken and how questionable they were .
While I have only listed one category regarding the importance of the No-Fly list barring any individual from obtaining weapons, this category is able to span over the subjects of human life, security and constitutional acceptance. I have stated the causation and correlation between permissive gun laws, and how effective gun control can be if established , along with how the recent rising in domestic and foreign terrorism forces the United States to take action, concerning that it is the responsibility of the government to protect their citizens, regardless if it may cause controversy and with reasoning accompanied by the Supreme Court giving justification to restrictions of rights under the Articles of Title V, of the Patriot Act, de facto giving the strength necessary for the No-Fly list to bar weapons from being obtained to possible terrorists.
I trust my opponent will bring up a worthy argument in the next round.
I would like to thank my opponent for providing his opening arguments.
Re: Increase of Terrorism
I will agree with my opponent that the gun laws are far too permissive and relaxed. As I mentioned in the previous round, guns are not and should not be free from government control or regulation; however, any form of regulation must be consistent with the Constitution.
Con argues that there has been an increase in terrorism and attacks on the U.S. Although it appears to be true that mass shootings have increased this ignores the overall trend. According to an October 1 (and updated in January 2016) report from Pew Research, since 1990, gun violence and gun related crimes has gone down steadily (1). This is due to many factors including a better economy, more police officers and technology, a decline in alcohol consumption, and a significant decrease in lead thanks to the Clean Air Act of 1970 (2). Indeed, it has never been a safer time in the United States for children (3). As for the rest of Americans, it also remains true that America is far safer now than we were 8 years ago under Bush (4).
Another important factor to consider is the amount of errors on the no-fly list. If the no-fly list is as deeply flawed as it currently is, how are we to expect that such a list would function well as a no-buy list? Indeed, the list would not have prevented many of the most recent shootings in Orlando, San Bernardino, and Sandy Hook Elementary School (6). None of these attackers were on the no-fly list including those with extremist ties. The Orlando shooter was on the no-fly list, but was removed in 2013 after the FBI could find no evidence of terrorist ties.
An alternative solution
I would like to take some time to propose an alternative policy for public safety. What would be effective to prevent more mass shootings? I would argue that expanding background checks, mandating gun insurance, requiring extensive psychological testing, limiting magazine capacity, and requiring a waiting period to purchase firearms would be far more effective than no-fly no-buy. We know that these policies work because they have worked in Australia and other places (7). These policies will effective and would be far consistent with the Constitution than no-fly no-buy.
Con's case relies on public safety and the increase of mass shootings. However, as I have shown, that ignores the overall trend that gun violence has gone down. Furthermore, no-fly-no-buy would not have prevented several of the most recent deadly attacks.
There are good reasons to be skeptical of the no-fly-no-buy policy. Because the no-fly list is deeply flawed, it is questionable whether or not it would be effective as a no-buy list. Furthermore, due to the secretive nature of the list, it is nearly impossible to get off the list or contest your inclusion. Americans should not be forced to give up more liberties - including that of due process, the right to a speedy trial, being able to contest a government witness, and the right to bear arms - in the name of public safety over a list that has not been proven to be effective.
I have also proposed an alternative solution that would be more effective and less intrusive than a no-fly no-buy policy.
I look forward to hearing my opponent's reply.
I would also like to thank Pro for providing his arguments.
Increase of Terrorism
My opponent made an agreement regarding the increase of terrorism, which I thank him for. However, the form of regulation, especially with the no-fly list, is constitutional. I made a superficial argument in the previous round which I will dig further into now, regarding constitutional controversies within the no-fly list, especially regarding how under the Patriot Act, Title V, which was brought into the Supreme Court, the Patriot Act was found aligned with the constitution . Title V of the Patriot Act dictates the powers granted to the government in order to prevent any other form of terrorism increasing within the United States, one of these powers specifically targets the exact operations of the No-fly list which allows the database to keep the names of individuals confidential, "They require no probable cause or judicial oversight and also contain a gag order" .
Now, moving onto crime and statistics, the overall trend of criminal activity in the United States has significantly dropped, that which I cannot refute. Of course, these crimes are not relative to terrorism in the United States. It cannot be denied there is a far stronger shock factor to singular and powerful terrorist strikes rather than divided individual fatalities motivated by crime. This is evident considering in terrorist strikes, it would take only one person to create the same amount of physical and emotional devastation in one attack than one lethal criminal event, especially since leaders over the world have been taking measures of restriction dedicated specifically to terrorism . This is also accompanied by the ideological motivation of mass murders, if not simple psychological instability , rather than financial motivation which makes terrorism harder and more necessary to tackle . Indeed, it has been a relatively safer time in the United States comparative to the crime rates within the past 20 years, although in a more international scale, even with only criminal factors, the US still tops all other developed countries in gun murders.
Regarding errors on the no-fly list, no system is perfect. Although, instead of abolishing the restriction especially when it still functions simply for a few errors, the government should simply be expected to allocate more resources towards the database and parent departments. There is also the possibility of placing the operations strictly inside the Department of Homeland Security and her $41.2 billion dollar budget . As for my opponent's remark on the no-fly list being "deeply flawed", a few examples of such wouldn't support the severity of the adjective you provided. In the paragraph prior to this one, I explained the difference between psychological instability and ideological motivation, something no system that even currently exists would be expected to find an accurate result out of without further digging into the privacy Americans cherish .
An Alternative Solution
The alternative solution my opponent provides is something I personally also agree with, although, as I stated before, the already constitutional access provided by the Patriot Act to the no-buy list would already provide an obstacle to those. The database is prone to making errors, but many of the people that have put on the list were put there for a reason and barring them from accessing guns is the strongest obstacle you can put in front of their goals . I would agree that this solution should be placed into the United States, hand-in-hand with the list in order to prevent further attacks. The US government should be allowed, and are currently in the green to do so, to create as many measures of prevention necessary in this increasingly hostile time.
My case does rely on public safety, which is a strong enough wall to affect all the arguments you provided. You have shown an overall trend going down in gun violence, but you did not show the list wouldn't have prevented "several", as you only provided two examples, one of which was not in the hands of the list to stop, but more in the hands of domestic psychological screening.
The no-fly list is not deeply flawed, as the criteria established for the list was placed into effect in order to prevent more terrorism. All systems are prone to making errors and the list can simply be reconstructed in standard to prevent any further mistakes.
As for the constitutional policies, the No-buy list has every single power you listed, especially government confidentiality, in order to prevent and obstruct any other action of terrorism. Rights have their limits, and freedom isn't free. If Americans are suspected of terrorism, then they will be forced to give up the liberties they are determined to bring down.
I will now start with the Round 2 rebuttals, as I have the space and BoP necessity to do so.
Round 2 Rebuttals
Regarding the US constitution and the seemingly unnecessary incursions of privacy, the Patriot Act as I had brought up before, specifically Title V, grants the US government the powers to restrict the right of American citizens and keep the information undisclosed in order to avoid the knowledge reaching the suspected terrorists giving them the ability to attempt to bypass the database (Refer to Source 2). My opponent believing that it would be found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, would find himself incorrect considering Title V was brought up to the Supreme Court before and found constitutional. Since Title V specifically mentions the same processes taken in the operations to prevent American terrorism, the no-buy list and the confidentiality she holds would be protected the Supreme Court and American constitution (Refer to Source 1). The Patriot Act came with many controversies, but it also came with the new powers of the United States government, justifiably taking all the measures necessary for the security of her people. As for the ACLU, you can always expect their Republican-friendly organization to oppose even the simplest gun restrictions against anything impeding upon their interpretation of civil liberties . In a more menial manner to respond to the assumption that it is immoral to remove the rights of a suspected terrorist, "better safe than sorry".
I should also say that within the same source of the Oregon Judge, the government appealed the case to a higher court , where the gag order of Title V of the Patriot Act protected the confidentiality of the government.
Errors of the TSDB
I cannot deny the fact that the TSDB has made mistakes although the numbers of mistakes compared with the efficiency of actual suspects and federal protection would deny your belief that it should be placed down below the efficiency it is set to work for. That statement is protected by the fact that actual suspects heavily outweigh the mistakes made . As for those unlucky enough to be misnamed, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few and only resource allocation could and should help them rather than an absolute restriction of the system and barring of weapons purchases.
I thank my opponent for his powerful arguments, and I look forward to the next round.
Points of agreement
There are several points that both con and I agree on. I want to post this to make things easier for the readers and voters of the debate:
-We both agree that guns are not free from government regulations and that more control is necessary.
-We both agree on the point that the overall crime rate and gun violence rate has gone down, in spite of the influx of terrorism.
-We both agree that there are mistakes on the TSDB, though we disagree on whether or not it can be described as deeply flawed(more on this later).
-We both agree that rights are not unlimited and that sometimes it is necessary for the government to intrude on those rights (however, we disagree whether or not TSDB is a justified intrusion).
Defense of opening arguments
In my opening speech, I highlighted several constitutional issues that could come up with a no-buy list. For ease of reading, I will repost them down here.
The right to bear arms
Right to Life, Liberty and Property
Right to Confront and Call Witnesses
Right to a Speedy and Public Trial
My opponent's case on the constitutionality of a no-buy list hinges on Title V of the PATRIOT Act. However, Title V of the Patriot Act and the no-buy list differ significantly. As noted by con, Title V approved stronger powers for the government, restraining rights of the individual in order to combat terrorism, including financial support, obstruction of justice, or conspiracy. According to con's own source (1):
"History makes clear, however, that information gathered for any purpose may be misused. Across multiple administrations, individuals and groups have been targeted for their activism, and sensitive personal information has been exploited for both political and petty reasons. The combination of vastly increased collection of innocuous information about Americans, long-term retention of these materials, enhanced electronic accessibility to stored data, and expanded information-sharing exponentially increases the risk of misuse."
The potential misuse and abuse of a no-buy list is the major reason for opposition to a no-buy list. Would the government be able to use this list to target law-abiding gun owners?
What makes a no-buy list different from Title V of the Patriot Act is that it denies a liberty that is guaranteed within the Constitution without due process and without a chance to appear before a court and to confront government witnesses. This is the issue that the NRA et al. take on the issue (2).
Errors on the TSDB
My opponent agrees that there are mistakes, but questions whether or not it can be called "deeply flawed," and argues that such a few examples that I have provided does not fulfill that burden. To respond, I will argue that when the 2009 DOJ report states that over 1/3 of the names are outdated, there is a deep flaw within the system (see round 2, source 4). It is deeply flawed because it operates under the assumption that you are guilty before proven innocent. There are at least 7 different ways that a law-abiding citizen could end up on the no-fly list and 3 of them basically boiled down to personal dislike. Your ex-partner, employee, neighbor etc. could report you and you can end up on the list. This, in fact, happened to several people (3, 4). There are also instances where a sitting Senator was added incorrectly to the no-fly list, an 18 month old baby (5), two journalists, a former U.S. attorney, and a disabled veteran (6).
If that does not make the no-fly list "deeply flawed", I do not know what will.
My opponent agrees with my alternative plan. This is a vital contention here as if I can show that there are much more effective, less intrusive, and constitutional plan to combat terrorism and prevent terrorists from getting guns, then I can win the debate on the grounds that the TSDB is not necessary. My opponent argues that my plan can be used hand-in-hand with the no-buy list; however, the plan that I set forth would make a no-buy list moot.
I have proven that the no-fly list is unconstitutional and deeply flawed. Moreover, should my plan be put in place, it would make the no-buy list unnecessary. Until the flaws are fixed and until due process is given, it should not and cannot be used to restrict our civil liberties. As we both agree, guns are not and should not be free from regulation, but those regulations that are in place must be consistent with the Constitution.
I would like to thank my opponent for a powerful and educational debate. I am very much looking forward to debating with you in the future! Good luck in the voting period!
To make the rounds as even as possible, I will not defend my rebuttals in this round.
Thank you for your rebuttals and the initiative you took in laying down our mutual stances, Pro.
I have to argue that Title V and the no-buy list do not differ as much as you claim. Your listing of what obstructions of justice that Title V grants still overpowers the amendments you provided. Restraining the rights of the individual goes as far as having undisclosed information to the public or the individual, and the gag order which stops such rights from reaching the suspected individuals . The court case I used regarding the Patriot Act went un-refuted by Pro, which showed Title V to be constitutional .
My opponent brings up the argument that valuable important information would be "abused" and "exploited" but risk of misuse and primary objective of the collection of information does not outweigh purpose and use. I must say, it is a weak argument considering I provided my foundation regarding the use and effectiveness of the USFG government data collections . Whether or not misuse happens, the no-buy list and her primary purpose outweighs any menial exploitation of data to advance the American national agenda. I don't like to point out fallacies but "Would the government be able to use this list to target law-abiding gun owners?" looks dangerously close to an "appeal to emotion" when you haven't provided a reason why the US would target them or what benefit the US could obtain from such.
My opponent states the difference between the no-buy list and Title V of the Patriot Act is that "it denies a liberty that is guaranteed within the Constitution without due process" but that is the exact protection the Patriot Act offers. You, yourself stated by my quote "Title V approved stronger powers for the government, restraining rights of the individual in order to combat terrorism" which would apply to such a situation that already went to court (Refer to Source 3).
Errors on the TSDB
The argument my opponent uses to attempt to fulfill his burden stating that "1/3 of the names are outdated" is in itself, outdated. The report was from 2009, and between 2009 and 2016, there has been quite an exponential rise in fiscal allocation to security departments  and terrorist attacks worldwide . A more current report, I offer begs to differ on how incorrect the current TSDB is, claiming it far more effective and accurate than my opponent argues . My opponent doesn't bring reason to why it is flawed by personal dislike, other than claiming it operates under assumptions, which is not true. The database makes surveillance and evidence on suspects which allows them to make more than just assertions to label them suspects . My opponent also did not provide how exactly "personal dislike" can get you on the list, considering it is a team of persons and computers targeting who ends up on the list (Refer to Source 7).
In 2009, maybe the TSDB was "deeply flawed", but right now, in 2016, the argument has changed towards more accuracy.
I do agree with your current plan, but it would be far more effective if it came hand-in-hand with the no-buy list. It isn't just agree with one and it means you don't with the other, both systems may operate at the same time. Your plan may be, subjectively less intrusive, but both plans are constitutional (Refer to Source 3). The plan you would set forth would not set the no-buy list moot because the suspects would only be placed under the same category without special surveillance. Terrorists can have outsourced help and surveillance and special formats to prevent firearms being acquired helps more than your plan.
You have not proven the no-fly list is unconstitutional, I have proven otherwise with an actual Supreme Court case covering Title V to prove it. You have only used assumptions and support by the ACLU, a republican friendly organization (Refer to Round 3 Arguments). I agree that guns should be regulated, but I believe in far more power granted to the government in order to make sure these powers are enforced and my argument do provide constitutional consistency. I have also shown that there has been a great need for stronger regulations by the government considering terrorist attacks have only been exponentially rising. I have backed up the argument with sources regarding what the government does with the information, how the information is collected and the court case which concluded in my argument's favour.
I thank my opponent for this great debate, he proved very powerful arguments and I expect the voting stage to be intense and close. Good luck, as well.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Hayd 1 month ago
|Who won the debate:||-|
Reasons for voting decision: RFD here http://www.debate.org/forums/miscellaneous/topic/92110/
Vote Placed by famousdebater 2 months ago
|Who won the debate:||-|
Reasons for voting decision: Vote on behalf of Lannan. RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by warren42 2 months ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Final Voting Issue: Effectiveness of the list This is probably the biggest voting issue of the debate. If Con had proven that the list had effectively stopped numerous plots, I'd have cast my vote Con. Though Con proved terrorism was increasing, he/she did not prove that the list was effectively combating this increase. This should've been the way Con should argue, but unfortunately that did not happen. Pro did not address ineffectiveness of the list, but I believe the BoP (for this particular issue) falls upon Con since there is no reason to have the list if it is not proved effective. Again, great debate to you both!
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