Wednesday, 22 May 2019

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G Government Affairs

Gun Safety Reform without Compromising the Safety and Rights of American Muslims

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The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and CAIR-Florida support the ongoing debate on how we as a nation can meaningfully adopt gun-safety laws that not only address the epidemic of gun violence but do so in a way that does not marginalize the rights of any one community, including American Muslims. CAIR and CAIR-Florida support reasonable gun safety reforms that could have potentially stopped mass-shootings like the ones that took place in Squirrel Hill, Parkland, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Las Vegas, and Charleston.

Gun-safety reforms that Congress should adopt include:

  • A universal background checks to all gun sales – including private handgun sales, gun shows, and online sales. That includes increasing enforcement of the rule and give states financial incentives to report criminal records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
  • Keeping guns out of the hands of individuals convicted of domestic violence or stalking. Moreover, CAIR and CAIR-Florida support gun violence restraining and protective orders for individuals fearing for their safety, enabling them to petition a court to remove a person’s access to guns if they pose an immediate threat.
  • Preventing a person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime or received an enhanced sentence for a misdemeanor because of hate or bias in its commission, from obtaining a firearm.
  • Prohibiting the possession or transfer of firearm accessories commonly referred to as “bump stocks,” which enable semiautomatic rifles to shoot at a rate closer to fully automatic rifles.
  • Federally-funding research into the causes and effects of gun violence in America.

“No Fly, No Buy” Legislation

CAIR and CAIR-Florida believe that “common-sense” gun safety reform does not include support for “No Fly, No Buy,” a legislative proposal that would ban gun sales to people placed on the government’s federal watchlist.

The watchlist disproportionately targets American Muslims and offers little due process recourse to appeal incorrect designations. While the watchlist includes many bad actors, who should not be allowed to purchase a firearm, it also includes law-abiding citizens who have never been charged, arrested, or convicted of a violent crime. Most importantly, the watchlist is often wrong. Notably, Senator Ted Kennedy,[1] Representative Tom McClintock,[2] and actor Mark Ruffalo,[3] along with countless American Muslims, have all been incorrectly placed on the terrorist watch list.

No Fly, No Buy legislation would not have prevented any of the recent shootings including Orlando, San Bernardino, and Squirrel Hill because the shooters were not on any government watchlist. Republican legislators, backed by groups like CAIR, CAIR-Florida and the American Civil Liberties Union ultimately voted down No Fly, No Buy legislation in past years because it violated due process rights and because of the high error rates of placement on such watch lists.

CAIR and CAIR-Florida also generally oppose proposals to militarize and over-police our nation’s schools in response to school shootings. In a 2017 survey, the California chapter of CAIR found that 38% of Muslim students are targets of offensive comments from school educators, an increase of 18% since 2014, where only 20% of respondents reported the same.[4] Militarizing our schools and arming teachers and faculty members is especially problematic for students of color, especially Muslims.

 

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/20/us/senator-terrorist-a-watch-list-stops-kennedy-at-airport.html

[2] https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/think-twice-about-that-bipartisan-no-fly-no-buy-gun-control-bill

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/nov/29/mark-ruffalo-terrorism-watchlist-gasland

[4] https://ca.cair.com/losangeles/publications/cair-ca-bullying-report-2017/