Why is a bunch of “3 letter agencies” gathering intel on gun owners?

By Dave Dolbee published on in News

The NSA is monitoring phone calls and data, the Internet is an open book to the government and recently we learned that Uncle Sam has been tracking our vehicles. According to the Wall Street Journal, “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.” We are continually assured this is for own safety; the government is not opposed to the citizens’ rights, it is only looking to protect us with the data.

Ogden Police

Friend or foe? The DOJ was planning to gather wholesale intelligence (data) about gun owners and make it available to every agency including local police departments.

At the same time, we are told there isn’t a governmental assault on the Second Amendment. The government is not overtly or covertly trying to suppress gun ownership or form any secret list of gun owners. However, new revelations developed over the last week or so that would make you question the government’s sincerity.

Now personally, I feel it is my duty to earn a spot on at least one government watch list. I might even be suspect of anyone else who wasn’t! However, that does not excuse the government’s behavior nor are the events of late anything to laugh about. The ACLU is not exactly a favorite organization of many, however occasionally, it does come across a gem. This is one of those gems and it should scare every law-abiding gun owner.

Recently, the ACLU received documents from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. It would seem the DEA was planning on, or at least contemplating, using Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs or LPRs) to gather intelligence about whose cars were attending gun shows. The emails obtained in the FOIA were highly redacted which makes getting the whole scoop difficult if not down right impossible, but suggests the program was well past the brainstorming stages.

“DEA Phoenix Division Office is working closely with ATF on attacking the guns going to [redacted] and the gun shows to include programs/operation with LPRs at the gun shows.”

SHOT Show Logo 2011

Plans were recently scrapped to place surveillance on the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas. This is not a consumer show, but thousands of media, law enforcement and dealers.

And what would the surveillance have shown? It would not have proved I was at the gun show. There would have been no sorting of who was there for legal or illegal purposes. It would not have even shown that I was there at all. My truck has never bought or sold a gun (even if it does regularly haul them for me); so, what would be the point? My purpose for being at the show could have been as a vendor selling popcorn, parking attendant, grounds maintenance or lawful consumer.

The ACLU makes much the same point, “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.” That is the danger of the wholesale collection of information without a defined, targeted purpose. The DEA would be spending our tax dollars, gaining no actionable intelligence, lumping lawful gun owners and citizens onto a list and tromping on our civil rights.

The political motivations are easy to see. For years now, lawmakers in Washington D.C. have been targeting gun shows and labeling them as “Illegal Arms Bazaars.” If, instead of rhetoric, the same lawmakers would look at the government’s own numbers they would have realized the futility of their folly. According to the Department of Justice, criminals very seldom obtain guns from gun shows. A DOJ survey of state and federal inmates showed less than 1 percent of criminals acquired a firearm from a gun show and used it to commit their crime. However, why use hard numbers and logic when you can spend tax dollars and target law-abiding gun owners?

Selling your guns like this at a local gun show is common.

About .7% of criminals reported buying the gun used in a crime at a show by the government’s own accounting, but that is not enough to stop it from infringing on your Constitutional rights.

The very fact that the DEA was involved at all is puzzling. Wouldn’t the ATF seem a more likely candidate? However, when asked, DOJ officials quickly denied any BATFE involvement in the LPR scheme. This is not much of a surprise when you look at other tidbits of news. The DOJ has become a collection point and distribution center for many agencies and departments. The Wall Street Journal explained the broad contours of DOJ LPR surveillance. It went on to detail 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.” It further noted the national database, “allows any police agency that participates to quickly search records of many states for information about a vehicle.” This means local law enforcement could use the data or list well outside of the scope of the original interest of the data collection.

The fact the government would even propose such targeting smacks of gun registration and harkens back to the use of the IRS to target specific political groups. It not only threatens our Second Amendment rights, it also has serious implications to the First, Fourth, Fifth… Does the right to the freedom of association and the organization of peaceable assembly without the boot of governmental spying on our throats ring any bells? Many attendees to gun shows neither buy nor sell guns while attending. It is a gathering of like-minded competition shooters, self-defense enthusiasts, hunters, law enforcement, jewelry vendors, food concessions and military historians just to name a few.

This dovetails with the FDIC’s recent admission of wrongdoing in its discriminatory practices in relation to products and services connected to the firearms industry aptly named “Operation Chokepoint.” These are just a couple of the recent examples of the government’s assault on the Second Amendment that recently came to light. While it is important to support our national organizations, it is also important to stay informed and get the word out, so be sure to share this information with your friends.

Do you believe the DOJ’s proposal was politically motivated, an intentional assault on the Second Amendment, or was it something else. Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Click Here to Start Shopping Online at Cheaper Than Dirt

SLRule

Growing up in Pennsylvania’s game-rich Allegany region, Dave Dolbee was introduced to whitetail hunting at a young age. At age 19 he bought his first bow while serving in the U.S. Navy, and began bowhunting after returning from Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Dave was a sponsored Pro Staff Shooter for several top archery companies during the 1990s and an Olympic hopeful holding up to 16 archery records at one point. During Dave’s writing career, he has written for several smaller publications as well as many major content providers such as Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Outdoor Life, Petersen’s Hunting, Rifle Shooter, Petersen’s Bowhunting, Bowhunter, Game & Fish magazines, Handguns, F.O.P Fraternal Order of Police, Archery Business, SHOT Business, OutdoorRoadmap.com, TheGearExpert.com and others. Dave is currently a staff writer for Cheaper Than Dirt!

View all articles by Dave Dolbee

Tags: , , , , ,

Trackback from your site.

The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (223)

  • Eric Callahan

    |

    Its Why ARE. Second word into the article and you’re already making gun owners look bad.

    Reply

    • brian

      |

      Took the words right out of my mouth, so to speak.

      Reply

  • G-Man

    |

    @ Mc Ruger and Pete In Alaska, and everyone else:

    I do apologize for suffering you folks through this and filling your inboxes with what appears to be a petty back-and-forth dispute. However, if you folks had access to the info I have, you’d be just as disgusted by wb’s (William Bryant) attempts to pass himself off as a Vet.

    Worse is that he knows that I really know the truth because I’ve fed him enough discreet personal info to overwhelming prove I do. So you may ask then, why does he persist?

    Out of humiliation or cockiness he has decided to put on a show for you folks to try and save face. When he responds, he is not really talking to me anymore because he knows there is no point given what I know about him. From that point he persists merely to put on an act for all the rest of you simply because he did not like departing out of such embarrassment.

    As for the sources of my information, I can assure everyone here I have broken no laws nor abused my position of authority. However, my employment has taught me skills that allow me to utilize open-source investigative tools available to all U.S. citizens; it’s just that I know how to use them well.

    As for his challenge for me to show him more proof, though I easily could, I have instead chosen to exercise great restraint in revealing more info on him as I do not wish to violate any TOS rules of this site.

    Otherwise I agree with you all… he is not worth it and I am done.

    Reply

  • wb

    |

    Should have followed Pop’s advice and not argued with an Idiot. My apologies to the open minded people on this site for feeding this troll so long. I will feed him no longer. I do feel sorry for his next target since all he can present way of evidence is liar, liar pants on fire.

    Reply

  • Pete in Alaska

    |

    Hey G-Man,
    Been following this thread since it went up. I haven’t said much but it’s been fun to read.
    I just wanted to say that I don’t think that WB is worth the time or energy to spar with as it’s kinda hard to have an open conversation with a closed mind of narrow view point. It’s best to leave them to their own twisted view of realiry. Better to ignor those that can only see their own inflexible view as if they arn’t there and spend ones time with those of broader view and open mind.
    I know it’s fun to see what they will write next but after a time or two it’s just kinda sad.
    As always, it’s a pleasure to see your comments as well as some of the other regulars here. It’s a shame that it is degraded at times by those of less flexable, open, and thoughtful minds and opinions.
    Pete sends…

    Reply

    • Mc Ruger

      |

      G-Man
      I’m with Pete in Alaska G-Man. He just ain’t worth it.

      Reply

  • TwoDrinkMinimum

    |

    Dave Dolbee, c/0 CTD.

    Whose’s the THIRD PARTY, DAVE…

    Reply

  • TwoDrinkMinimum

    |

    @ G-Man

    People are going to start wondering why they can’t Log into that Site. Is there something on that Site, you don’t want anybody too see. Is it the Site You got Called out ON, G-Man. Hummm!!! That OK, I pretty much know what took place, talking to other people. I’m some of them even made COPIES…

    Reply

  • TwoDrinkMinimum

    |

    @ DAVE DOLBEE.

    I’m really not buying it DAVE, did G-man get to you too. Locking everybody out of page 48 of CTD, The Shooter’s Log: The Presidential Election Board. What he do, offer too Double his order of DP-12 Shotguns, too do G-Man a favor…

    Reply

    • G-Man

      |

      @ TwoDrinkMinimum: You are truly off your rocker when you no longer care about how psychotic you look. Seriously, can we get you some help?

      Reply

  • Michael

    |

    Go out of town for a birthday surprise, and when I get home. The world went to @#$% in a Hand Basket. I guess I’d better star reading from page one and see what I MISSED!!!

    Reply

Leave a comment

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

%d bloggers like this: