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Report: Law Enforcement Agencies Registering Vehicle Information of Gun Show Attendees

Friday, October 7, 2016

Report: Law Enforcement Agencies Registering Vehicle Information of Gun Show Attendees

A report this week in the Wall Street Journal provides further indication of the Obama administration’s persecutory attitude toward America’s gun owners.  

The newspaper claimed emails from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request show that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents used local police officers in Southern California to drive around the parking lot of a large gun show to “collect all of the cars’ information.”

Based on normal attendance at the show, thousands of individuals who were under no particularized suspicion were likely swept up in the surveillance dragnet. 

The article states that ICE had hatched a plan to use license plate readers (LPRs) at Southern California gun shows to compare information on vehicles parked at the shows with information on vehicles later crossing the border into Mexico.

Of course, there’s nothing inherently suspicious about attending a gun show or traveling to a neighboring country, even if one event precedes another. 

And unsurprisingly, according to the article, “There is no indication the gun-show surveillance led to any arrests or investigative leads ….”

Nevertheless, officials contacted by the Journal did not “rule out that such surveillance may have happened elsewhere.” 

What happened to the information gathered by the surveillance, and whether it remains on file with the government, is unknown.

Federal law prohibits the government from compiling a registry of firearms or their owners from certain types of specified information. Information obtained by LPRs, a relatively new technology, is not covered by these provisions. 

Use of the devices is largely unregulated, and because they capture information that individuals are exposing in public, their Fourth Amendment implications have not received the same degree of attention as the capture of information contained in ostensibly private locations or communications.

Yet the move sparked condemnation from a number of quarters, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a company that manufactures LPR systems, whose CEO called the gun show surveillance “an abuse of the technology.” 

On Tuesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) weighed in with his own disapproval in a letter sent to ICE’s director, Sarah R. Saldaña. “Constitutionally-protected activities should not subject gun show attendees to unwarranted and heavy-handed surveillance practices by their government,” he wrote. Chairman Goodlatte also demanded further details of the operation mentioned in the Journal article and of any similar operations. 

This is not the first time that mass surveillance of gun show attendees has made the news. Last year, we reported on a similar program proposed by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and revealed in documents obtained by an ACLU FOIA request. 

The DEA claimed that particular program never went past the proposal stage.

Whether or not that’s true, it’s clear the Obama administration is sympathetic to the idea that any gun owner, or even any person who simply attends a gun show is a potential criminal or terrorist.  

That attitude has led to other abusive tactics and proposals, from Operation Choke Point to the president’s calls for “universal” background checks.

Gun owners should take note and should be sure the officials who get their votes are committing to protecting their rights, not using the exercise of those rights to cast unwarranted suspicion or condemnation upon them.

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Washington: Trigger Modification Ban Passes Committee

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Washington: Trigger Modification Ban Passes Committee

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Eighteen States, Law Enforcement, Doctors, and Firearm Rights Groups File Amicus Briefs in Lawsuit Challenging California 10+ Magazine Ban

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Eighteen States, Law Enforcement, Doctors, and Firearm Rights Groups File Amicus Briefs in Lawsuit Challenging California 10+ Magazine Ban

On Friday, January 12, several amicus briefs were filed in the NRA and CRPA supported lawsuit challenging California’s restrictions against magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. The lawsuit, titled Duncan v. Becerra, challenges California’s ...

Democrats' Exciting New Hope Adheres to Tired Old Anti-Gun Dogma

News  

Friday, January 12, 2018

Democrats' Exciting New Hope Adheres to Tired Old Anti-Gun Dogma

Democrats searching for a standard-bearer in the 2020 presidential election lit on long-time entertainment, media, and publishing figure Oprah Winfrey this week, following a speech Winfrey gave at a televised Hollywood extravaganza.

Virginia: Gun Control Tops New Governor’s Agenda

News  

Friday, January 12, 2018

Virginia: Gun Control Tops New Governor’s Agenda

This week, Virginia Governor McAuliffe and Governor-Elect Ralph Northam outlined their top priorities for the upcoming legislative session, and highlighted expanded background checks for all firearm sales and other transfers (so-called “universal” background checks) as ...

Indiana: Gun Bills Filed

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Indiana: Gun Bills Filed

With the 2018 Indiana legislative session underway, a number of bills affecting your Second Amendment and hunting rights have been filed.

Washington: Senate Law & Justice Committee to Hear Anti-Gun Bills Next Monday

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Washington: Senate Law & Justice Committee to Hear Anti-Gun Bills Next Monday

On Monday, January 15th at 10:00AM, the Senate Law & Justice Committee is scheduled to hear multiple anti-gun bills.  Testimony will be limited during the hearing, so all NRA members and Second Amendment supporters are strongly ...

Washington: CPL Permit Confidentiality Bill Introduced

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Washington: CPL Permit Confidentiality Bill Introduced

Last week, Washington legislators introduced an NRA-backed bill to protect the private, personal information of Washington's concealed pistol license holders from public records requests.  Senate Bill 6173, sponsored by Senator Dean Takko (D-19), and House Bill ...

Washington: Substitute Versions of Gun Control Bills to Be Heard

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Washington: Substitute Versions of Gun Control Bills to Be Heard

Last night, anti-gun legislators introduced substitute bills for Senate Bill 5444 and Senate Bill 5463.  These substituted versions will replace the original bills that are scheduled for a public hearing on Monday, January 15th. NRA remains opposed ...

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.

Massachusetts: Your Action Needed on Critical Preemption Bill

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Massachusetts: Your Action Needed on Critical Preemption Bill

State Representative James Miceli (D-19th Middlesex) will be writing a letter to the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security urging them to vote favorably on House Bill 1296 to improve firearms preemption laws ...

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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.