Congressional Democrats took the unprecedented step of conducting an actual sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, demanding that Republican leaders allow votes on gun control legislation.
But this unusually bold and moving tactic was undercut by the fact that its chief goal is a political gimmick that would do little to stop gun violence, while expanding the use of a deeply flawed anti-terror watchlist.
While sit-in participants are also advocating for expanded background checks and an assault weapons ban, their primary call to action is for a vote on a measure that would ban gun sales to people listed on a federal government watchlist – a move clearly designed more for its political potency than for its effectiveness.
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And the government’s consolidated terrorist watchlist is notoriously unreliable. It has ensnared countless innocent Americans, including disabled war veterans and members of Congress. Nearly half of the people on these watch lists were designated as having “no recognized terrorist group affiliation,” according to documents obtained by The Intercept in 2014.
Indeed, many of those involved in today’s sit-in have themselves recognized these problems in the past. In a 2014 letter addressed to the Department of Homeland Security, lawmakers including Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., the civil rights hero leading today’s sit-in, complained that the current process for appealing designation on the federal no-fly lists “provides no effective means of redress for unfair or incorrect designations.”
Read the full article, with possible updates, at The Intercept.