I recently saw a headline declaring the Governor of Connecticut, Dannel P. Malloy, barring anyone on a watchlist from purchasing firearms in the state. While I support stopping people who should not have firearms from purchasing them, I cannot support the use of something like the TSA No Fly List as the baseline for infringing on a citizen’s rights. When the list was created in 2001 it only had about 600 people who were to be denied air transport and 365 which were to undergo additional scrutiny. A year later the totals were over 70,000. What those numbers fail to mention is those with similar names were often flagged. How do I know? Well back in the day I was flagged by the system as a “Selectee” on the list because my name was similar to someone on the list and could not print a boarding pass and was always subjected to SSSS screening. If you have not heard of SSSS screening it stands for Secondary Security Screening Selection and at the time it required additional metal detection and pat downs and often unpacking any carry-on luggage. Does that sound like fun to you? I understood we could have terrorists in or midst and needed to be vigilant, but how does a guy from NC who had never flow internationally get flagged by a system when his name is of European decent. Anyway I jumped through quite a few hoops to get off the list and at the time there was no good way to do so. Every heard of the Office of Ombudsman at the Department of State? Me neither until I had to send them document after document to get off the list. It took about two years and finally I was clear of the list and did not look back.
Fast forward a year or two later after being clear and I once again found myself on the list and no longer able to print boarding passes. This time around I did not seem to get flagged by SSSS screening, but knowing I was once again on some list or flagged due to a similar name was quite irritating especially considering what it took to get off the list in the first place. Luckily by this time a clear path was established to get off the list using something else you probably have never heard of the DHS TRIP which is the Traveler Redress Inquiry Program. I submitted the required documentation and eventually received a letter with a Redress Control Number and have not experienced any issues since, but I have to submit the RCN with the airlines when I book travel. On occasion I now get TSA Pre on boarding passes and don’t even have to remove my shoes.
So someone explain to me how using the TSA No Fly List to deny firearm ownership is a good idea when the system flags people who had no reason to be on the list in the first place. I have no issue with extra scrutiny for those on the list, but in the end they need an easy means to keep their rights from being infringed. I don’t know what that may be, but if someone is denied firearm ownership simply because their name is similar to someone on the No Fly List they should have an easy path to clearing up the mistake without undue burden and at no cost to them. If Governor Malloy wants his state to walk this path then he better help clear the path for law-abiding citizens flagged in error to easily fix the mistake.