Kamala Harris Promises to Disarm ‘Hate’
Article from Reason by Jacob Sullum.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), who is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, says that if elected she will push legislation that would authorize federal courts to issue gun confiscation orders against people who express opinions that may indicate an intent to commit a hate crime. These “domestic terrorism prevention orders” would “temporarily restrict a person’s access to guns if they exhibit clear evidence of dangerousness,” including “violent racist threats or anti-immigrant manifestos.”
Harris’ plan to “disarm violent hate” is pretty vague, so it’s hard to say whether it would be consistent with the First Amendment. If the bill she imagines would merely create a federal “red flag” law focused on a subset of people deemed a threat to others, that would be bad enough, since these laws generally give short shrift to due process. But her description of the problem she is trying to address suggests that constitutionally protected speech might by itself be enough to suspend someone’s Second Amendment rights.
“From El Paso to the Tree of Life Synagogue, and from Poway to Mother Emanuel Church,” her campaign website says, “one thing is clear: Guns are the weapon of choice for domestic terrorists and perpetrators of hate crimes….Whether it’s violent racist threats or anti-immigrant manifestos, signs of impending violence are often evident before tragedy strikes.” While that may be true in retrospect, it does not mean that all racists, nativists, white supremacists, or anti-Semites who express their views online, or even a significant percentage of them, are bent on mass murder.
Harris mentions the 2018 shooting in which Robert Bowers murdered 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Prior to the attack, Bowers posted a bunch of anti-Semitic comments on Gab. In his bio, he described Jews as “the children of satan,” and his posts and reposts railed against Jews and the Latin Americans whose illegal immigration he believed they were facilitating. “He was clearly obsessed with Jews,” Alex Amend of the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote after the attack. “In the small window into his account currently available, it’s evident he engaged with numerous antisemitic conspiracy theories that have long been in circulation among neo-Nazis and white nationalists.”
Read the entire article at Reason.