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.

Recommended for You

Hi-Point has YEETed its way to internet fame with the new YEET Cannon G1. Industry

New from Hi-Point: The YEET Cannon

David Fortier - July 18, 2019

Hi-Point has YEETed its way to internet fame with the new YEET Cannon G1.

The Soviet short sword of World War II was the Pistolet Pulyemet Shpagin-1941 (PPSh-41) submachine gun. Rifles

Shooting the Soviet 7.62x25mm PPSh-41 Submachine Gun

David M. Fortier - July 11, 2019

The Soviet short sword of World War II was the Pistolet Pulyemet Shpagin-1941 (PPSh-41)...

Ontario Chief Firearms Officer, Dwight Peer, spoke with TheGunBlog.ca about the Canada-wide surge in buying AR-15 target rifles. 2nd Amendment

Ontario, Canada Chief Firearms Officer Comments on AR-15 Buying Surge and Gun Licensing

TheGunBlog.ca - July 16, 2019

Ontario Chief Firearms Officer, Dwight Peer, spoke with TheGunBlog.ca about the Canada-wide...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New Bushnell Prime 1700 and Nitro 1800 Rangefinders

New Bushnell Prime 1700 and Nitro 1800 Rangefinders

Jake Edson of Bushnell Optics tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead about the brand new Prime 1700 and Nitro 1800 rangefinders.

Ruger introduces Rifles Chambered in the All-New .350 Legend

Ruger introduces Rifles Chambered in the All-New .350 Legend

Two Ruger American Ranch rifles and the AR-556 MPR are now chambered for Winchester's .350 Legend cartridge.

American Suppressor Association (ASA)

American Suppressor Association (ASA)

ASA is the unified voice of the suppressor industry and a leading subject matter experts on suppressors and suppressor related advocacy.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

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...

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.

CRKT makes 17 different knife models exclusively for Ruger, from fixed hunting knives to tactical folders, and many of their models are offered in several different styles. Accessories

Ruger CRKT Knives Review

James Tarr - July 08, 2019

CRKT makes 17 different knife models exclusively for Ruger, from fixed hunting knives to...

See More Stories

More 2nd Amendment

LaPierre's self-set dumpster fire may never be completely put out. 2nd Amendment

NRA's LaPierre is Riding the Tiger

David Codrea - July 26, 2019

LaPierre's self-set dumpster fire may never be completely put out.

Red Flag Laws Put Your Life and Your Family's Lives in Extreme Danger and Risk of Death 2nd Amendment

Red Flag Laws Endanger You and Your Family

Mark Chesnut - August 27, 2019

Red Flag Laws Put Your Life and Your Family's Lives in Extreme Danger and Risk of Death

Ontario Chief Firearms Officer, Dwight Peer, spoke with TheGunBlog.ca about the Canada-wide surge in buying AR-15 target rifles. 2nd Amendment

Ontario, Canada Chief Firearms Officer Comments on AR-15 Buying Surge and Gun Licensing

TheGunBlog.ca - July 16, 2019

Ontario Chief Firearms Officer, Dwight Peer, spoke with TheGunBlog.ca about the Canada-wide...

See More 2nd Amendment

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW OUR CURRENT ISSUE

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

×