How long is 72 hours? Three days, maybe working days, maybe not. 72 hours in order to get a judge to find sufficient probable cause to make a temporary, 72-hour ban on purchasing firearms permanent. The alternative is to give the Attorney General immediate power to ban anyone on a terror watch list from buying a gun. No prizes for guessing which amendment was proposed by Dianne Feinstein, and which was proposed by John Cornyn.

Neither amendment would have prevented Omar Mateen from purchasing a gun. He was taken off the terror watch list in 2014. It would be instructive to be able to read the FBI officers reasoning behind the lack of evidence they apparently needed in order to keep Mateen on the terror watch list.

For those of us outside the intelligence community trying to look in, this feels like boxing shadows. What exactly is a terror watch list? Senator Sasse has cast doubt on the firmness of such an object as a clear identifiable list. What there is, is a set of databases with ways to parse the data contained there. Up to a million names on certain databases. Or more. Seeing it’s not for our eyes.

In other words, you have to mine the data according to unclear or unknown guidelines, perhaps with overly cautious respect for possible infringement of an individual citizen’s rights. And then decide whether to flag that data. It must be a seemingly impossible job for overworked intelligence analysts laboring in the depths of the beltway bureaucracy.

Tough. Do the job, because it has to be done. And do it better.

And the job will have to be done in the face of civil resistance by libertarians and conservatives who rightfully are suspicious of or hostile to the enormous state surveillance apparatus that was born in the aftermath of 9/11. But intelligence and surveillance are needed more than ever. That they have to pass the test of a judge’s ruling on whether there is probable cause to ban a citizen or individual from owning a gun is a reasonable response to their concerns. Cornyn’s proposed amendment makes sense and gets the balance right between security and individual freedoms. Feinstein’s would use Orlando to further the Democrats’ gun control agenda.

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