All right-thinking people seem to think that, even if it were practical, banning Muslims from visiting the United States would be at best an ineffective overreaction and at worst, a violation of human rights and abdication of America’s standing as a beacon of liberty in the world.
We—and Donald Trump—concede that banning all foreign Muslims would ensnare some innocent people who only want to visit the U.S. and have no terrorist sympathies at all. But we are apparently not allowed to consider such trade-offs in debating how best to promote Americans’ safety when it comes to deciding which foreigners to allow the privilege of entering the country.
Meanwhile, President Obama has gone ahead in unveiling various actions to restrict Americans’ access to guns. “We understand there are some constraints on our freedom in order to protect innocent people,” the President said, while claiming to support the Second Amendment. “Our unalienable right to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — those rights were stripped from college students in Blacksburg and Santa Barbara, and from high schoolers at Columbine, and from first-graders in Newtown.”
We understand there are some constraints on our [sic] freedom in order to protect innocent people. Our unalienable right to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — those rights were stripped from Americans serving their country at Fort Hood and in Chattanooga , police officers serving their communities in Philadelphia and New York, and innocent civilians attending a holiday party in San Bernardino, the president did not say.
Banning foreign Muslims from entering the U.S. would create unforeseen problems in our foreign policy, would be difficult to implement, and might entail some legal challenges—so we should not even think about how to overcome these barriers.
Obama’s executive actions on gun control would “present new and unforeseen enforcement problems,” “create untold logistical . . . difficulties,” and be “subject to legal challenge,” according to a White House staffer. But it’s worth it.
Banning foreign Muslims from the U.S. enjoys majority support in polls, but that is not reason to consider it, according to mainstream media editorialists (most of whom supported the president’s proposals on guns). According to the Washington Post, majority support is a good reason for Obama to act: “Obama said gun owners would support his new restrictions. He was right.”
Banning Muslims from entering the U.S. would affect some innocent people, who just want to enjoy their vague “right” to visit the U.S. and are no threat to our safety. Making it harder to purchase a firearm would affect mostly innocent people, who just want to enjoy their constitutionally-protected right to own a gun and are no threat to our safety.
So are we to conclude that personal freedom, implementation challenges, and public opinion are relevant factors in considering measures to improve public safety only when it comes to some issues?