by Kevin Peterford – Ten days ago the world was shaken by the horrific attacks that occurred in Paris. In the wake of the deadliest attacks on France since World War II, there have been numerous proposed means of combatting future terrorist attacks. In the United States there are two remedies suggested to curtail an attack on its soil. One method is to make it more difficult for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to enter the U.S. Another approach is to keep guns out of the hands would-be terrorists that are already living among its citizens. This article will give an overview of each of the two suggested plans.
The Safety Against Foreign Enemies Act (SAFE Act) was introduced in the House of Representative on November 17th, 2015. The SAFE Act was introduced in direct response to the deadly terrorist attacks that had recently occurred in Paris, France. The bill requires that “in addition to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) screening, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shall take all actions necessary to ensure that each covered alien receives a background investigation before U.S. refugee admission.” Further, a covered alien is any refugee that is seeking admission into the U.S. from either Iraq or Syria. The SAFE Act would also require the Homeland Security secretary, the FBI Director and the Director of National Intelligence to personally sign off that each refugee isn’t a security threat.
The key component of the SAFE act is it makes the FBI the primary agency in charge of conducting refugee background checks. Currently, the DHS is the main agency in charge of handling these refugee background checks. According to TIME, Syrian and Iraqi refugees are already the most vetted category of people to enter the U.S. Their screening already involves background checks by the FBI and DHS. This process is said to average between 18 and 24 months. Even though the current vetting process on these refugees is already strict, the bill would shift additional pressure to the directors of the FBI and National Intelligence. By making them personally sign off on each admitted Syrian and Iraqi refugee, they would essentially be taking the blame if that refugee later committed a terrorist attack on the U.S.
The SAFE Act is clearly up to debate. Currently, President Obama says he will veto the current bill if it reaches his desk. Along with attempting to severely limit Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the United States, others are attempting to stop potential terrorists who currently live on U.S. soil from gaining access to guns.
“No Fly Should Mean No Buy” is the theory that Senator Chuck Schumer is using in his push to stop suspected terrorists from purchasing guns. The Denying Firearms and Dangerous Explosives to Terrorists Act of 2015 would prohibit the sale or distribution of firearms or explosives to any individual whom the Attorney General has determined to be engaged in terrorist activities. This bill has been around since 2007 when it was first introduced by the Bush Administration. When it was formally introduced in Congress in 2009 it went nowhere. Now, after the events in Paris, Senator Chuck Schumer says it will be reintroduced in the Senate this week.
Senator Schumer wants the same people who are on the no-fly list to be restricted from purchasing firearms. Under the Terrorist Screening Center’s No Fly List, U.S. Intelligence gathers names of people who are not allowed to board commercial aircraft. Senator Schumer believes that “the same nefarious individual we monitor and bar from our planes, we turn the other way when it comes to allowing them to get guns and explosives.”
An issue raised with regards to the bill is that it has negative Second Amendment implications. The bill would not permit someone who ends up on the Terror Watch list the ability to purchase guns. However, you do not need to be convicted or charged with a crime to end up on the Terror Watch list. Opponents of the bill greatly dislike the fact that one can lose their Second Amendment right to bear arms without even having been charged with committing a crime.
In the aftermath of the horrid Paris attacks it is clear that people and organizations want to prevent this type of event from happening again. There are definitely different viewpoints on the means of eliminating future terrorist attacks. Many people cannot agree on which act or law is the correct means of achieving peace. Fortunately however, people do agree that these horrific attacks must somehow be stopped.