The “Terrorist” Next Door

posted on March 22, 2022
Jason Ouimet

It seems obvious: Terrorists shouldn’t have guns. But when concerned parents are branded as terrorists or extremists for speaking out at their local school board meetings, that idea falls apart.

The Biden Administration’s Department of Justice recently provided a case study of why Second Amendment supporters have to be cautious about reflexively jumping on the bandwagon when anti-gun politicians talk about “keeping guns out of the wrong hands.”

Gun-control activists have long called for people on so-called “terrorist” watchlists, including the No-Fly List, to be banned from possessing firearms.

The NRA has rightly opposed these efforts because it would lead to law-abiding Americans being stripped of their Second Amendment rights without due process.

The real problem is who gets to determine what constitutes “terrorism” and how that determination is made.

Recent events have vindicated the NRA’s wariness on this issue. First, there was the politically motivated attempt by partisan lawmakers in San Francisco to officially brand the NRA itself as a “domestic terrorist organization.”

It took a lawsuit by the NRA to back San Francisco off this position, with city officials later announcing a resolution passed to proclaim that designation had no effect on law, policy or practice.

But the same sort of authoritarianism that prompted San Francisco’s fumbled broadside recently led Joe Biden’s DOJ to flirt with an arguably even more outrageous intimidation campaign. This time, concerned parents were the target.

The 2020 and 2021 school years featured unprecedented changes to how America’s public schoolchildren were being educated.

There was, of course, the real and difficult issue of how schools should respond to the unfolding pandemic. Parents had legitimate concerns that shutdowns, masking requirements and other measures that swept too broadly and were more harmful to healthy children than the virus itself.

Then there were changes in curriculums that caused parents to voice their concerns about what was being taught in schools. These developments led to impassioned scenes in school-board meetings across the country, as parents on different sides of these issues made their views known.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter to President Biden in September 2021, urging the administration to classify “these heinous actions” as “the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” and to bring federal counterterrorism authorities to bear in suppressing them.

Yes, you read that right. The NSBA sought to officially designate concerned parents as “terrorists.”

Less than a week later, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland issued his own memo promising “a series of measures designed to address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel,” and directing the FBI and U.S. Attorneys to coordinate with state and local authorities on the matter.

The chilling potential of this pronouncement was obvious.

Even though Garland would later testify before Congress that “I do not think that parents getting angry at school boards for whatever reason constitutes domestic terrorism. It’s not even a close question,” FBI whistleblowers would later undermine that testimony. The whistleblowers disclosed that the Bureau’s Counterterrorism and Criminal Divisions created a specific tag to track “threats specifically directed against school board administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.” The point was supposedly to analyze the scope and nature of this alleged activity so federal authorities could better coordinate with “law enforcement partners at all levels.”

Of course, the real motivation was to suppress parents’ exercise of their First Amendment rights.

The FBI attempted to claim it “has never been in the business of investigating parents who speak out or policing speech at school board meetings, and we are not going to start now.”

These events created a damning impression of an administration willing to use federal law enforcement and counterterrorism assets to crack down on parents who rankled a key constituency of Biden’s political party.

Among the millions of NRA members are untold numbers of parents who are concerned about their kids’ educations. Some, no doubt, have engaged in their rights to seek redress of grievances or simply voice their opinions before their local school boards.

Does this make them terrorists and should they have to forfeit their Second Amendment rights as a consequence of being active in local politics or their children’s education?

If your answer to that question is “no,” don’t take the Biden administration’s assertions of what sort of gun control is necessary to combat “terrorism,” “extremism” or “hate” at face value.


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