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Mission Creep: DEA Contemplated Mass Surveillance of Gun Show Attendees

Friday, January 30, 2015

Mission Creep: DEA Contemplated Mass Surveillance of Gun Show Attendees

Recent revelations about a proposed federal law enforcement program might have some friends and families drawing lots to decide who drives to the next gun show.

Criminals rarely obtain guns from gun shows. A Department of Justice survey of state and federal inmates, found that only 0.7 percent of those polled had acquired a firearm that they possessed at the time of their offense from a gun show. Unfortunately, this didn’t stop at least one federal official from suggesting that the sophisticated tools of the modern surveillance state be turned on unsuspecting gun show attendees.

Documents obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union reveal that, in 2009, the Drug Enforcement Administration contemplated using License Plate Readers (LPRs) to track vehicle traffic from gun shows. A highly redacted email from an unknown DEA official suggests the program was past infancy, and stated, “DEA Phoenix Division Office is working closely with ATF on attacking the guns going to [redacted] and the guns shows to include programs/operation with LPRs at the gun shows.”

ACLU correctly points out the danger of such technology in an article on their website, explaining, “An automatic license plate reader cannot distinguish between people transporting illegal guns and those transporting legal guns, or no guns at all; it only documents the presence of any car driving to the event. Mere attendance at a gun show, it appeared, would have been enough to have one's presence noted in a DEA database.”

The proposed program is even more disturbing when placed into the larger context of the Justice Department’s ongoing general license plate tracking program. A January 26 article from the Wall Street Journal explains the broad contours of DOJ LPR surveillance. The piece states, “The Justice Department has been building a national database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records about motorists.” The authors go on to explain the wide availability of the collected data, writing, “Many state and local law-enforcement agencies are accessing the database for a variety of investigations… putting a wealth of information in the hands of local officials who can track vehicles in real time on major roadways.” They further note that this national database “allows any police agency that participates to quickly search records of many states for information about a vehicle.”

According to a January 27 Wall Street Journal article focusing specifically on the gun show surveillance proposal, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart told the paper, “The proposal in the email was only a suggestion. It was never authorized by DEA, and the idea under discussion in the email was never launched.” Further, the article stated that DOJ officials were quick to deny any BATFE involvement in the LPR scheme. However, as has been made clear by the events of the last two years, public statements by federal officials regarding the scope of federal surveillance activities should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism.

DEA’s proposed indiscriminate gun show surveillance places an unacceptable burden on the privacy of law-abiding citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights and even smacks of firearm registration. Further, such tactics infringe upon rights protected by the First Amendment. Gun shows are far more than just shopping opportunities for gun buyers. They are also community gatherings that often serve as venues for political expression and organizing. As such, they are subject to the First Amendment’s rights of freedom of association and to peaceably assemble and should be free from government activity that could chill free and open participation.

In recent years, the unfettered growth of the surveillance state has become an increasing threat to the privacy of gun owners, and NRA recognizes this challenge. That’s why in early 2014 NRA filed a friend of the court brief in a case challenging the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance of phone and internet data. The brief contended that the data collection program is unconstitutional on First Amendment freedom of association grounds, and that it violates statutory prohibitions against compiling gun ownership records. Likewise, NRA is investigating the recent DEA revelations and will continue to work in this area to ensure the privacy of all gun owners.

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Illinois: House Committee Passes Bill to Close Local Gun Dealers

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Illinois: House Committee Passes Bill to Close Local Gun Dealers

The House Judiciary Committee passed Senate Bill 1657 by a 7-6 vote.

From My Cold Wet Hands: Humorless Scold Targets Squirt Guns

News  

Friday, May 19, 2017

From My Cold Wet Hands: Humorless Scold Targets Squirt Guns

We have yet to reach Memorial Day, but the fun police have already set their sights on at least one cherished summer childhood activity. In an article for Pupsugar.com, titled, “Why Kids Should Never Play ...

Court's Commonsense Conclusion: "There Was a Gun" Isn't Enough to Justify Issuing a Restraining Order

Second Amendment  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Court's Commonsense Conclusion: "There Was a Gun" Isn't Enough to Justify Issuing a Restraining Order

The Supreme Court of North Dakota confirmed this week that simply possessing a handgun while on one’s own private property cannot support a finding of "disorderly conduct" under the state’s disorderly conduct restraining order law. ...

Bloomberg's Everytown Creates "Authors Council" to Push Anti-Gun Propaganda

News  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bloomberg's Everytown Creates "Authors Council" to Push Anti-Gun Propaganda

As if the country’s media weren’t already sufficiently co-opted by anti-gun advocates, this week, Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety announced an effort to pervert an additional facet of American entertainment. The billionaire bank-rolled interest group has ...

California: Draft "Assault Weapon" Regulation Language Now Available

Thursday, May 18, 2017

California: Draft "Assault Weapon" Regulation Language Now Available

Today, May 18, a draft copy of the "Assault Weapon" regulations has been made available

Federal Lawsuit Challenging California’s Ban on Standard Capacity Magazines Filed

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Federal Lawsuit Challenging California’s Ban on Standard Capacity Magazines Filed

Today, May 18, the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) announced it is supporting, along with the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), an important Second Amendment lawsuit challenging California’s ban on the possession ...

Nevada: Anti-Gun Bills Fail to Pass Second Chamber Policy Committee Deadline

Friday, May 19, 2017

Nevada: Anti-Gun Bills Fail to Pass Second Chamber Policy Committee Deadline

Today, May 19, was the second chamber policy committee deadline.  Two anti-gun bills, Senate Bill 115 and Senate Bill 387, both failed to pass out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee and are now dead for the 2017 legislative ...

Illinois: Last Chance to Save your Local Gun Dealer!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Illinois: Last Chance to Save your Local Gun Dealer!

The Illinois House of Representatives may consider Senate Bill 1657, legislation that could put your local gun dealer out of business, at any time! It is imperative that you contact your state Representative IMMEDIATELY and ...

New York: Outrageous Insurance Bill Headlines Long List of Anti-Gun Bills

Monday, March 13, 2017

New York: Outrageous Insurance Bill Headlines Long List of Anti-Gun Bills

The yearly onslaught of anti-gun legislation in the Empire State is concrete proof that anti-gun politicians will never be satisfied until guns are completely banned.  Even though Albany lawmakers passed arguably the nation’s harshest gun ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

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NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.