Gun owners wary of government overreach in the name of “public safety,” take heed.
We all agree that laws should seek to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous people. But the details of these laws are important. Who is considered “dangerous”? What information supports that decision? Who gets to make “dangerousness” determinations and by what standards? Who provides oversight or review of these decisions? Could such a determination apply to you? If you were unfairly and inaccurately labeled dangerous, would you have effective recourse to clear your name?
Now imagine a country in which the government maintains a secret list of what it considers dangerous people. No one outside the government is allowed to see the list or know who is on it. No one outside the government is allowed to know the information that led to a person’s inclusion on the list.
Yet being on the list has very serious consequences. It means a person is being watched, and his or her activities are being documented. It can lead to a denial of freedoms, like the freedom to use ordinary modes of interstate and international travel. These denials, in turn, can hurt a person’s educational, business, or personal prospects, not just freedom of movement. If they are obvious enough, they can damage the person’s reputation in the community.