Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

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.

TRENDING NOW
“Fact Checker:” Joe Biden’s “Gun Ban” Not a Gun Ban Because Some Guns Wouldn’t Be Banned

News  

Monday, July 15, 2019

“Fact Checker:” Joe Biden’s “Gun Ban” Not a Gun Ban Because Some Guns Wouldn’t Be Banned

Facebook has teamed up with what it calls “third-party fact-checkers” to punish users of its platform that post information embarrassing or inconvenient to the political outlook of its principals. Yet like most sources of what ...

Hollywood Fantasy v. Reality on Firearm Suppressors

News  

Monday, July 15, 2019

Hollywood Fantasy v. Reality on Firearm Suppressors

It’s no secret that Hollywood has a very loose relationship with reality.  The movie industry, after all, is based on fantasy and escapism, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  If someone wants to forget ...

California: City of San Diego Considers Gun Control Ordinance

Friday, July 12, 2019

California: City of San Diego Considers Gun Control Ordinance

San Diego City Attorney, Mara Elliott has asked the City Council to consider a draft ordinance that would require mandatory locked storage of firearms in the home and would propose a conflicting law regarding the reporting of ...

Presidential Pretender Who Campaigned on Gun Control First to Call It Quits

News  

Monday, July 15, 2019

Presidential Pretender Who Campaigned on Gun Control First to Call It Quits

On Monday, Eric Swalwell became the first of the many pretenders for the Democrat presidential nomination to bow (or perhaps slink) out of the race. The U.S. Congressman from California’s 15th District had tried to distinguish himself from ...

California: Injunction Request to be Filed in Lawsuit Challenging California Ammo Law

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

California: Injunction Request to be Filed in Lawsuit Challenging California Ammo Law

CRPA, with the support of NRA, challenged the ammunition background check law in court months ago with the filing of the Rhode v. Becerra case. The lead plaintiff in the case is Olympic gold medalist shooter ...

Hawaii: Governor Ige Signs Anti-Gun Legislation

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Hawaii: Governor Ige Signs Anti-Gun Legislation

On July 9th, Governor David Ige signed the final remaining anti-gun bill awaiting his consideration, Senate Bill 600. This comes on the heels of him signing Senate Bill 1466 on June 27th. 

Vox Wants to Take Your Guns

News  

Monday, July 8, 2019

Vox Wants to Take Your Guns

A conspiracy relies on secrecy. Some are, perhaps, never uncovered. Others are exposed by the conspirators themselves, who cannot help but share the details whether from arrogance or anxiousness. For years, law-abiding gun owners and ...

California: Legislature Breaks for Summer Recess

Sunday, July 14, 2019

California: Legislature Breaks for Summer Recess

The California Legislature has recessed for the summer and will return August 12 from the break. Last week, the following actions were taken by the Senate Public Safety Committee, Senate Natural Resources, and both the Senate ...

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.

NRA Statement On Virginia Special Session

News  

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

NRA Statement On Virginia Special Session

FAIRFAX, Va.–   The interim executive director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, Jason Ouimet, released the following statement today regarding the special session in Virginia:  "The National Rifle Association has a long ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

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.