Feds Consider Gun Show Spying

Feds Consider Gun Show Spying

The American Civil Liberties Union has always been kinda blah on the 2nd Amendment, to the point that in the 1970s, it was just left out of a Bill of Rights display in ACLU headquarters.

So it was good to see the organization taking up for gun owners after a Freedom of Information request exposed a proposal inside the Drug Enforcement Agency to spy on gun shows

The Department of Justice was quick to characterize the spying idea as the idle notion of a low-level employee that was quickly nixed by higher-ups. Given the scandal involving enhanced IRS surveillance of conservative political organizations, it's hard to have full confidence in that one.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that the ACLU has raised concerns about widening use of license-plate recognition systems and other advanced surveillance techniques by DEA and other agencies, especially since many of them have made asset forfeiture, even in the absence of a conviction, a major goal.


An internal DEA document said, "DEA has designed this program to assist with locating, identifying, and seizing bulk currency, guns, and other illicit contraband moving along the southwest border and throughout the United States. With that said, we want to insure we can collect and manage all the data and IT responsibilities that will come with the work to insure the program meets its goals, of which asset forfeiture is primary."


It's only natural to connect the dots between generalized surveillance at gun shows and asset forfeiture. As has been demonstrated time and again, the feds are perfectly content to snatch your guns and then challenge you to get them back. The best hole for that sort of fishing expedition is a gun show.

As the Journal reported: "The 2009 email is heavily redacted so as not to disclose the sender, recipient or much of the text beyond a single sentence: 'DEA Phoenix Division office is working closely with [the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives] on attacking the guns going to [redacted] and the guns shows, to include programs/operation with [license-plate readers] at the gun shows.'"

Those who have followed the Fast & Furious scandal will immediately take note of the Phoenix connection, since that's where the "gun walking" debacle was concocted. If you believe, as most politically aware gun owners do, that Fast & Furious was an attempt to build a rationale for restrictive gun control, gun show surveillance is just, from federal law enforcementís viewpoint, a logical extension.

The ACLU's Jay Stanley said he was glad to hear DEA officials nixed the program, but noted "there is unfortunately a long history of Americans being subject to surveillance because of their political or associational activities, and we see that to this day. When you combine that history with a powerful surveillance technology like license plate scanners, it raises significant concerns."


No kidding. Gun shows are a central, maybe the central "associational activity" of gun owners. That's why the antis always attack them. The number of crime guns acquired at gun shows is small. Antis want to kill gun shows because thatís where gun owners gather, bond, exchange information and gather strength for the fight. Shows are prime recruiting territory for NRA and for state and local gun groups. Eliminate them and building membership and activists becomes much harder.

And how many of you would feel enthusiastic about attending a gun show if you knew federal agents eyeballing your license plate were making a list? There are probably quite a few out there who won't go now unless they can ride a bus: knowing that attending a gun show might put you in a government database would deter many more.

Just knowing a surveillance plan was discussed will scare off a lot of people, which nicely serves the purpose of those who were considering it.


So one hearty cheer for the ACLU; better late than never! If they can't work up the stomach to defend our right to bear arms, at least they can support our right peaceably to assemble, and that counts as progress.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Firearm News July 2019 Issue 13 - Brownell BRN-Metro

Firearm News July 2019 Issue 13 - Brownell BRN-Metro

Want the “Holy Grail” of AR-15 rifles? Brownells has made that possible with their BRN-Proto rifle.

Promo: Firearms News September 2019 – Issue #18! THE BIG MSR HUNTING ISSUE!

Promo: Firearms News September 2019 – Issue #18! THE BIG MSR HUNTING ISSUE!

Pick up a copy at your local magazine stand, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, or major book retailer!

SCCY CPX-4 in .380 ACP

SCCY CPX-4 in .380 ACP

New for 2019 is the SCCY CPX-4, a .380 ACP semi-automatic pistol that extends beyond the existing SCCY CPX-3 line of pistols.

Preview: Firearms News May 2019 Issue 10

Preview: Firearms News May 2019 Issue 10

Rikk Rambo penned over 16,000 words of excitement covering two great handguns from Smith & Wesson! The S&W Performance Center .500 10-inch revolver and the S&W Performance Center .44 Magnum with 3 5/8- inch barrel!

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

This will be the first of many investigative reports about the NRA by Firearms News. 2nd Amendment

Firearms News Investigates the NRA: Part 1

Nedd Scott - July 18, 2019

This will be the first of many investigative reports about the NRA by Firearms News.

No one can restore receptivity to another Trump term with these disaffected gun owners but the president himself. 2nd Amendment

2020 is Trump's to Blow with Gun Owners

David Codrea - July 09, 2019

No one can restore receptivity to another Trump term with these disaffected gun owners but the...

The last of Germany's infamous Elefant tank destroyers. Historical

World War II German Elefant Tank Destroyers

Neal S Shera - July 12, 2019

The last of Germany's infamous Elefant tank destroyers.

Want the “Holy Grail” of AR-15 rifles? Brownells has made that possible with their BRN-Proto retro rifle. Rifles

Brownells BRN-Proto Retro Rifle

Patrick Sweeney - July 02, 2019

Want the “Holy Grail” of AR-15 rifles? Brownells has made that possible with their BRN-Proto...

See More Trending Articles

More 2nd Amendment

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday that a law banning gun magazines that hold more than 15 rounds is Constitutional. 2nd Amendment

Colorado Supreme Court Decision to Uphold Magazine Ban Skirted 2nd Amendment

David Codrea - July 01, 2020

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday that a law banning gun magazines that hold more than...

The disturbing trend of many Democrat politicians calling for defunding police while in the next breath calling for more restrictive gun-control laws is a two-edged sword that is most likely to negatively affect law-abiding Americans and benefit those who make a living committing violent criminal acts. 2nd Amendment

The Double-Edged Sword Of Defunding Police And Banning Guns

Mark Chestnut - June 18, 2020

The disturbing trend of many Democrat politicians calling for defunding police while in the...

This truly bipartisan piece of legislation, shepherded through the Senate by Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, Steve Daines, R-Montana, and Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, will provide $2.8 billion to much-needed maintenance, improvements and conservation efforts at America's national parks. 2nd Amendment

Senate Passes Great American Outdoors Act

Mark Chesnut - June 25, 2020

This truly bipartisan piece of legislation, shepherded through the Senate by Sens. Cory...

Congressman Matt Gaetz addressed a letter to Attorney General William Barr and ATF Acting Director Regina Lombardo, and it was co-signed by Republican Reps. Neal P. Dunn, Bill Posey, W. Gregory Steube, John Rutherford, Ted S. Yoho, and Daniel Webster. 2nd Amendment

Congressmen Question ATF Brace Restriction Plans

David Codrea - June 22, 2020

Congressman Matt Gaetz addressed a letter to Attorney General William Barr and ATF Acting...

See More 2nd Amendment

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW OUR CURRENT ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Firearms News subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now