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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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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Florida Alert: YETI Drops NRA Foundation

For years YETI Coolers have been a hot item for sportsmen at the Friends of NRA Foundation Banquet and Auction events around the country.  Suddenly, without prior notice, YETI has declined to do business with The ...

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

ALERT ! YETI Adds Insult to Injury

If it wasn’t bad enough that YETI dropped The NRA Foundation as a client, now they’re calling us liars because we informed our members and friends of their actions.  

Dick’s Sporting Goods/Field & Stream to Destroy Firearms Inventory

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Second Amendment  

Friday, April 20, 2018

Dick’s Sporting Goods/Field & Stream to Destroy Firearms Inventory

Dick’s Sporting Goods took their campaign to alienate law-abiding gun owners to an extraordinary new level last week. The beleaguered retailer announced that in addition to removing certain types of semi-automatic rifles from their stores, the company ...

NRA Statement on Passage of the National Defense Authorization Act

News  

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

NRA Statement on Passage of the National Defense Authorization Act

National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action executive director, Chris W. Cox, released the following statement on Tuesday regarding President Donald Trump's signature on the National Defense Authorization Act

California: Legislation Requiring Background Checks on Barrels and Other Parts Up For Hearing!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

California: Legislation Requiring Background Checks on Barrels and Other Parts Up For Hearing!

Several pro- and anti-gun bills are scheduled to be heard in their respective committees on Monday, April 23 and Tuesday, April 24.  Please contact the members of the respective committee and urge them to SUPPORT ...

Another Group of Anti-Gun Celebrities Forms!  In Other News, The Sun Rose Today.

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Second Amendment  

Friday, April 20, 2018

Another Group of Anti-Gun Celebrities Forms! In Other News, The Sun Rose Today.

In case you were worried there were not enough anti-gun organizations working to eradicate the rights of law-abiding gun owners, a new one has formed, and it’s called NoRA.  Get it?  The name implies that the ...

Keep Calm and Carry On: Pro-Gun Sentiment Reasserts Itself in Wake of Antigun Blitz

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Second Amendment  

Friday, April 20, 2018

Keep Calm and Carry On: Pro-Gun Sentiment Reasserts Itself in Wake of Antigun Blitz

Like the long-delayed coming of spring to the Mid-Atlantic, evidence is appearing that Americans are regaining their senses and reverting to an instinctual embrace of freedom after a withering barrage of some the nastiest and most ugly ...

Illinois: Senate to Consider Overriding Veto on Dealer Licensing Bills

Monday, April 23, 2018

Illinois: Senate to Consider Overriding Veto on Dealer Licensing Bills

With the April 25th deadline approaching, the Illinois state Senate is expected soon to consider overriding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto on legislation that would drive your local gun stores out of business with onerous red tape ...

Minnesota: Two Anti-Gun Amendments to be Introduced and Considered Tomorrow

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Minnesota: Two Anti-Gun Amendments to be Introduced and Considered Tomorrow

Tomorrow, anti-gun state Senator Ron Latz is expected to introduce two gun control amendments to the Senate Judiciary Omnibus finance bill on the Senate floor.

Delaware: Mandatory Gun Storage Legislation to be Heard in Committee Today

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Delaware: Mandatory Gun Storage Legislation to be Heard in Committee Today

Today, the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider anti-gun House Bill 366.

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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.