This week’s “Pat Political Point Podcast,” as originally aired on WSGW’s First Day. Why are Second Amendment advocates silent on those quietly trying to erode the Fourth Amendment?
Amidst the gun control debate happening in Congress this week, or the lack thereof thanks to the GOP, another piece of legislation being debated in the Senate received scant coverage.
Republican Senators John McCain and Richard Burr introduced an amendment that grants the FBI power to spy on your Internet browsing history and emails…without needing a warrant. McCain and other cosponsors of the bill put up a fierce fight to get the Senate to approve the measure, but thankfully, it failed.
But here’s the scary part.
It failed by two votes.
In a procedural vote to begin debate on the Internet spying bill, the Senate voted 58-38 to advance it. The bill needed 60 votes. That means it fell only two votes short of receiving a full hearing on the Senate floor! And while most Republicans predictably voted for the trashing of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, 11 Democratic senators and one independent joined to support it!
While the McCain-Burr amendment would not give the FBI the right to read actual emails, they would be allowed to read subject headings and email addresses. The bureau would also be given the power to spy on your Internet activity, and see how much time you spend on a specific website.
On top of that, the FBI wouldn’t have to request a court order to not only do the things I just described, but would also have the authority to stop an Internet provider from telling its customers that, hey, they’re being watched by the federal government.
McCain and Burr are fearful that unless the Senate accepts their amendment, the FBI will lose this power originally granted to them in the Orwellian-named “PATRIOT ACT.” This specific amendment sunsets in 2019.
Those who voted in favor of increased spying of American citizens are saying this amendment must succeed, or else we’ll have another Orlando mass shooting tragedy. McCain, himself, argued that our government must have increased spying protections to prevent a “lone wolf” or Islamic-supporting terrorists from causing harm to Americans.
The amendment is also supported by FBI, which is such a shock!
FBI Director James Comey told a senate intelligence committee (now there’s a contradiction in terms!) that forcing the the bureau to receive a court order before it spies on you affects their work in a big way! Senator McCain condescended to privacy rights advocates, saying he feels sympathy for their concerns, but we must give MORE power to the federal government!
Oh, and about that fourth amendment? Don’t sweat too much about it!
Senator Burr admitted the legislation wouldn’t have prevented the Orlando massacre, but that something has to be done to prevent another similar incident like it from happening again.
Wow. I believe the same argument is sometimes used by gun control advocates, but they’re usually laughed at by people like McCain and Burr.
In case you need a refresher on the Fourth Amendment, it reads as follows:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. –
It’s astonishing that the same people who complain about Big Government coming to take our guns, simply yawn when day-after-day their Fourth Amendment rights are being trashed.
Empirical evidence illustrates how unfettered spying hasn’t led to any major breakthroughs in stopping a terrorist attack. In fact, the evidence collected under warrantless spying could’ve been uncovered through more conventional ways of using a court order!
Now, for those of you thinking, “Well, if I’m not doing anything wrong, then I have nothing to worry about,” please consider this fun fact. When you visit a website, let’s say a website that is of adult nature, there’s a possibility you’re being watched. Doesn’t that make you feel comfy-cozy. And, I’m sure there wouldn’t be one person at the FBI or in the government who would abuse that power and spy on innocent Americans for no reason, right?
This all happened while the gun-rights advocates were fighting tooth-and-nail to ensure people on a terror watch list could have easy access to a weapon.
While I consider the whole terror watch-list to be nothing but a racial profiling atrocity, there are others, like McCain and Burr, who have zero problem with the watch-list. Yet, they have no problem with people on those watch lists to getting guns.
Yes, illogical and flawed reasoning, but then again, we thrive on illogical and flawed reasoning in this country.
The victims of the Orlando massacre could be honored by passing meaningful legislation that prevents future attacks. Like, for instance, ensuring domestic violence criminals can’t get access to guns. Or re-instating the assault weapons ban. Or declaring the AR-15, and similar weapons like it, an assault weapon!
But while we can tinker with other amendments, we can’t dare touch the fabled second amendment from infringing on my basic right of “pursuit of happiness.” Of course, the Second Amendment also says that there should be a “well-regulated” militia, which means everyone owning a gun–any gun–must belong to a militia.
The inability to enact meaningful gun control, and the apathy surrounding our government’s ability to weaken the Fourth Amendment, just shows me that the gun rights’ people simply don’t care about The Constitution.
If they did, they’d join a regulated militia and stop further erosion of the Fourth Amendment.