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Big Loss for Big Brother: Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Government on Mass Surveillance

Friday, May 8, 2015

Big Loss for Big Brother:  Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Government on Mass Surveillance

On May 7, 2015, in a significant victory for Americans’ right to privacy and the rule of law, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case of ACLU v. Clapper, which challenged the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone metadata under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. While the plaintiffs raised various claims, the court ultimately ruled that the provision of law the government claimed enabled the mass surveillance program did not confer that authority. According to the court’s opinion, “the text of § 215 cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and … it does not authorize the telephone metadata program.” Your NRA had participated in the case by filing friend of the court briefs at different stages of the proceedings. We have also supported legislation to curtail the NSA’s dragnet surveillance of American citizens.

As described by the court’s opinion, the information captured under the program concerns “details about telephone calls, including, for example, the length of a call, the phone number from which the call was made, and the phone number called.” Additionally, “Metadata can … reveal the user or device making or receiving a call through unique ‘identity numbers’ associated with the equipment … and provide information about the routing of a call through the telephone network, which can sometimes … convey information about a caller’s general location.” Analysis of this information, even without listening to the content of the calls, can reveal detailed information about the parties to the call, including civil, political, or religious affiliations; social status and networks; and even possession of certain items.

The NRA argued in its briefs that NSA’s data collection program violates the First Amendment rights of NRA members by potentially chilling their willingness to communicate.  It also asserted that the NSA program could be used to circumvent statutory protections barring the federal government from collecting gun ownership records.  While the court did not resolve the case on those grounds, the breadth of opposition to the program from across the political and ideological spectrums likely underscored to the court the gravity and scope of the privacy violations at issue.

Since the litigation began, media reports – often citing accounts from whistleblowers formerly associated with U.S. intelligence agencies – have accused the federal government of far more intrusive practices against Americans who are under no suspicion of wrongdoing. This includes capturing and storing the actual content of digital communications (including cell phone calls and e-mails) and developing programs to automatically transcribe audio communications, the better to conduct keyword searches of them. Whatever the full extent of the modern surveillance state under Barack Obama may actually be, it’s clear that the very government which is supposed to serve the people treats those same people as inherently suspicious and in need of monitoring. A more backward view of America’s constitutional order is hard to imagine.

One of the fundamental flaws behind most types of gun control is that it purports to punish “the bad guys” by focusing its restrictions primarily on the good guys. The same defect applies to the practice of capturing huge amount of information about Americans, their communications, and their activities on the off-chance it might later prove useful when targeting a legitimate threat. Not only does this violate lawful citizens’ expectations of privacy, it can chill lawful conduct and the exercise of constitutionally protected freedoms, and it conflicts with American values as reflected in the Constitution and laws of our land.

We will continue to report on further developments in this important, unfolding story. While Big Brother is indeed watching, NRA is committed to ensuring that your Second Amendment choices and activities remain shielded from his gaze.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Lawsuit Filed Against California's Assault Weapons Control Act

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) today announced it is supporting, along with the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), an important Second Amendment lawsuit challenging California’s newly expanded Assault Weapons Control ...

Illinois: Senate Passes Legislation that will Close Gun Stores

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Illinois: Senate Passes Legislation that will Close Gun Stores

Today, the Illinois Senate passed an amended version of Senate Bill 1657 by a 30-21 vote.  As amended, SB 1657 would exempt big box stores from its restrictions.

Brace Yourself: ATF Reconsiders Obama-Era Policy on Stabilizing Braces

News  

Gun Laws  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Brace Yourself: ATF Reconsiders Obama-Era Policy on Stabilizing Braces

News broke this week that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has reconsidered and “clarified” its Jan. 6, 2015 Open Letter on the use of stabilizing braces as shoulder stocks.

“F” Stands for Fail: School Jeopardizes Student’s Future for Possession of Squirt Gun

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Second Amendment  

Friday, April 21, 2017

“F” Stands for Fail: School Jeopardizes Student’s Future for Possession of Squirt Gun

Public education’s long-running “zero tolerance” war against anything that suggests the idea of a firearm (including, for example, clothing, gestures, toys, food, computer images, and favorable opinions of self-defense) has claimed another victim. This time ...

Illinois: Anti-Gun Legislators are Attempting to Sneak their Agenda into Unrelated Legislation

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Illinois: Anti-Gun Legislators are Attempting to Sneak their Agenda into Unrelated Legislation

Yesterday, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton proposed Senate Amendment 1 to his shell bill, Senate Bill 233.

South Carolina: Senate Subcommittee to Hear Multiple Gun Bills Tomorrow

Monday, April 24, 2017

South Carolina: Senate Subcommittee to Hear Multiple Gun Bills Tomorrow

Tomorrow, a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to discuss several firearm-related bills, and subcommittee members need to hear from you.

West Virginia: Governor Signs Pro-Gun Bills into Law

Thursday, April 27, 2017

West Virginia: Governor Signs Pro-Gun Bills into Law

Late yesterday, Governor Jim Justice signed two important pro-gun bills into law.

Rhode Island:  House Committee Will Hear Over a Dozen Gun Bills Tuesday Night

Monday, April 24, 2017

Rhode Island: House Committee Will Hear Over a Dozen Gun Bills Tuesday Night

On Tuesday, April 24, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a marathon hearing on several anti-gun bills.

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.

California: Open Carry Ban Passes in the Assembly

Friday, April 21, 2017

California: Open Carry Ban Passes in the Assembly

Yesterday, the state Assembly passed Assembly Bill 7 by a vote of 44 to 29.   AB 424 was not considered during yesterday’s floor session, however it remains eligible for a vote at any time.  

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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.