A portion of a new highway bill passed by the Senate and expected to be approved by the House, which gives expanded power to the IRS, has sparked controversy.
As reported yesterday the bill gives the agency to power to revoke passports based upon whether or not a citizen owes back taxes. Certain government watchdogs also maintain that the bill would give the IRS the power to revoke gun rights.
The bill is lengthy, 1,674 pages of legalese, that in some places is difficult to follow.
However, those who have decided to pore over those pages, including this reporter, have reached some conclusions that are very different from that of the persons who first provided commentary on the provisions of the bill.
While the new law does, in fact, give the IRS the power to revoke passports if a citizen owes at least $50,000 in back taxes–all without due process–there is a big question mark over whether or not the bill gives the agency the power to suspend the right to keep and bear arms.
The bill mentions firearms specifically, but within the context of transport. The wording also indicates that nothing in the bill is meant to be construed as a restriction on the transport of firearms and ammunition.
The problem, however, is twofold.
First, the section that mentions firearms is within the broader context of transportation permits. The Secretary of Transportation is given broad powers in that area, leading some to ask serious questions about such power as it relates to firearms.
In certain circumstances, such as in cases of national emergency, does the Secretary have the power to revoke permits to transport guns and ammunition on the nation’s highways and railways, and in other realms of transportation such as air and waterways?
If the Secretary has such power, then it would directly impact the right to keep and bear arms, given that transportation is the means by which manufacturers deliver their goods to the businesses that sell them.
Granted, the wording is confusing and easily misconstrued. This, say the watchdogs, is precisely one of the reasons there is cause for alarm. “Interpretation” is given such heavy emphasis in the modern era that laws are written in such a manner as to allow those in government broad leeway in the application of those laws.
Second, this reporter could find nothing in the bill that specifically allows the IRS to restrict gun rights in any way whatsoever. However, the key to understanding the eventual consequences of the powers the IRS is given in the new law is what is implied in the bill, not what is specified.
For example, in order for the IRS to carry out its mandate to revoke the passports of citizens who owe at least $50,000 in back taxes, the agency would have to enter such persons in a national database so that any time a “prohibited person” applies for a passport, that individual would be flagged for a denial.
And this is the thing that has citizens’ rights groups up in arms. The government already has ‘no fly’ lists that prohibit certain persons from air travel. Critics say that the government could easily use such lists to deny Second Amendment rights to those who find themselves on the lists.
Rahm Emanuel, for example, is famously known for stating during a speech that anyone on a no fly list should be prohibited from purchasing a gun. A video of Emanuel’s remarks on the subject can be found in the upper left corner. Click on the image to view.
Citizens, by the way, are placed on no fly lists routinely without due process of law and without the government’s having to prove that they are deserving of such a designation. Some government watchdogs say there have been cases where citizens have been placed on the list for merely speaking out against the government.
Thus, it is the slippery slope and not the specific wording of the bill that is causing such alarm among government watchdog groups.
Notice! My latest entry in Musings After Midnight at my blog, The Liberty Sphere, is now posted. I don’t mean to be tooting my own horn, but if you want a thorough education in conservative activism, read this entry. It’s all about my involvement with Buckley, Reagan, Goldwater, and the conservative movement.
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