DEA, ATF Planned to Track Gun Show Attendees

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I used to laugh at people who told me that the government actively monitors and tracks the activities of gun owners. But in light of a recent letter obtained by the ACLU, now I think I’m the one who deserves to be laughed at.

Check this out:

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives collaborated on plans to monitor gun show attendees using automatic license plate readers, according to a newly disclosed DEA email obtained by the ACLU through the Freedom of Information Act.

The April 2009 email states that “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.” The government redacted the rest of the email, but when we received this document we concluded that these agencies used license plate readers to collect information about law-abiding citizens attending gun shows. 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.

Of course, the government denied that the plan was ever carried out.

“The proposal in the email was only a suggestion. It was never authorized by DEA, and the idea under discussion in the email was never launched,’’ DEA administrator Michele Leonhart told The Wall Street Journal.

Regardless of whether the DEA or ATF actually implemented the plan, why are they even thinking about doing this in the first place?  Ostensibly, it would be to track cartel operatives looking to score some firearms from unscrupulous gun sellers.  But if that’s the case, why track all of the attendees  Why build a massive database of citizens who are simply exercising their fundamental right to keep and bear arms?

Don’t have the answer to that question.  Neither does the National Rifle Association.  But spokesperson Andrew Arulanandam said that the nation’s gun lobby is “looking into this to see if gun owners were improperly targeted, and has no further comment until we have all the facts.”

Page 5 of the DOJ letter to the ACLU. (Photo ACLU)

Page 5 of the DOJ letter to the ACLU. (Photo ACLU)

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • shootbrownelk February 3, 2015, 7:40 pm

    The BATFE drones are coming…….now where the heck did I put my tin-foil hat??

  • WATCHDOG February 2, 2015, 8:54 pm

    Various data bases have come to haunt a lot more people that most realize. And there are a lot more databases than most people know about. But the biggest problem is so called investigations when your name pops up for no apparent reason. Must be a criminal or they would not be on this list.
    For instance, I helped a young man, struck by auto, in front of my house. The investigating officer mistakenly recorded me as the father of the injured boy and then the insurance company came after me for vehicle damage payment. The insurance collections jerk started with- we’ll garnishee your wages. I’m retired but he could go after my social security, we’ll put a lien on your house-that can be done without you knowing it and try selling your house with a lien years old on it. I made it clear that if they continued I’d take action. It stopped and I made the police department correct the report. Mix up, you bet, but had the insurance company not approached me this flaw would have remained on record until something else came up.
    The Tea Party participants in Maryland were placed on a “Terrorist” list and other groups arrested in DC following similar protests received the same label. The brand showed up in various instances including arrest warrants after these incidents.
    Montgomery County required, at one time, a signature for ammunition purchases. A box of 9 mm put you on the same list as a buyer for 1000 rounds of 5.56 and 5 AR-15’s. The requirement was contested and done way with.
    After a personal injury accident in September 2013 the Montgomery County Fire Department Ambulance and Holy Cross Hospital continued to send invoices for services. I’m a Veteran of the Korean War and if they (all 3 providers) had followed my endless instructions (with documents) they would have been paid. Instead 3 providers filed false claims with Medicare Part B- (which I do not have) for payment. This carelessness has placed me on a CMS-Medicare collection agency register for payment never received. I have been criminalized as a suspect for false claims-that I never made. Since all claims were denied I received no payment yet there is a lien against me.
    I was refused a security clearance for work on the Capitol Visitor Center. What? I had a Top Secret clearance for the Department of Energy to inspect work at nuclear energy sites, had a security pass to the Pentagon renovation after 9/11, and a dozen clearances more for other agencies-FBI, DOD, Homeland Security-Why denied? We can’t tell you-BS. Finally, the reason-I had not told the truth in use of an alias. A what? The investigator reviewing the Top Secret report, on file, found where it was stated that my men called me “Friendly”, that was distorted by the reviewing officer as an alias-that I had lied about. Talk about twisted. This is what you get after he said-she said.
    The comment about being labeled a (?) after attending a gun show is accurate. While there did you buy 10 AK-47’s. or a box of .22LR? Doesn’t matter-you are a gun show culprit now. You are on a list in the hands of who knows who and for what. Get stopped by the police and who knows what information from what source pops up. I’ve bought 2 guns and ammo over the years from gun shows but have attended with friends who have bought collectibles, lots of ammo, and more than a gun or two. Am I logged in with them? Sure. These lists, data bases, sources get twisted beyond belief, and especially once it’s documented these distortions, whether a lie, falsification or misinterpretation becomes that persons TRUTH!
    The lot of “mistakes” and misdirection of information has happened to me endless times and getting it fixed is a nightmare.
    Running tags at gun shows-STOP!

    • Watchdog February 2, 2015, 8:59 pm

      Various data bases have come to haunt a lot more people that most realize. And there are a lot more databases than most people know about. But the biggest problem is so called investigations when your name pops up for no apparent reason. Must be a criminal or they would not be on this list.
      For instance, I helped a young man, struck by auto, in front of my house. The investigating officer mistakenly recorded me as the father of the injured boy and then the insurance company came after me for vehicle damage payment. The insurance collections jerk started with- we’ll garnishee your wages. I’m retired but he could go after my social security, we’ll put a lien on your house-that can be done without you knowing it and try selling your house with a lien years old on it. I made it clear that if they continued I’d take action. It stopped and I made the police department correct the report. Mix up, you bet, but had the insurance company not approached me this flaw would have remained on record until something else came up.
      The Tea Party participants in Maryland were placed on a “Terrorist” list and other groups arrested in DC following similar protests received the same label. The brand showed up in various instances including arrest warrants after these incidents.
      Montgomery County required, at one time, a signature for ammunition purchases. A box of 9 mm put you on the same list as a buyer for 1000 rounds of 5.56 and 5 AR-15’s. The requirement was contested and done way with.
      After a personal injury accident in September 2013 the Montgomery County Fire Department Ambulance and Holy Cross Hospital continued to send invoices for services. I’m a Veteran of the Korean War and if they (all 3 providers) had followed my endless instructions (with documents) they would have been paid. Instead 3 providers filed false claims with Medicare Part B- (which I do not have) for payment. This carelessness has placed me on a CMS-Medicare collection agency register for payment never received. I have been criminalized as a suspect for false claims-that I never made. Since all claims were denied I received no payment yet there is a lien against me.
      I was refused a security clearance for work on the Capitol Visitor Center. What? I had a Top Secret clearance for the Department of Energy to inspect work at nuclear energy sites, had a security pass to the Pentagon renovation after 9/11, and a dozen clearances more for other agencies-FBI, DOD, Homeland Security-Why denied? We can’t tell you-BS. Finally, the reason-I had not told the truth in use of an alias. A what? The investigator reviewing the Top Secret report, on file, found where it was stated that my men called me “Friendly”, that was distorted by the reviewing officer as an alias-that I had lied about. Talk about twisted. This is what you get after he said-she said.
      The comment about being labeled a (?) after attending a gun show is accurate. While there did you buy 10 AK-47’s. or a box of .22LR? Doesn’t matter-you are a gun show culprit now. You are on a list in the hands of who knows who and for what. Get stopped by the police and who knows what information from what source pops up. I’ve bought 2 guns and ammo over the years from gun shows but have attended with friends who have bought collectibles, lots of ammo, and more than a gun or two. Am I logged in with them? Sure. These lists, data bases, sources get twisted beyond belief, and especially once it’s documented these distortions, whether a lie, falsification or misinterpretation becomes that persons TRUTH!
      The lot of “mistakes” and misdirection of information has happened to me endless times and getting it fixed is a nightmare.
      Running tags at gun shows-STOP!

  • Glennon February 2, 2015, 7:14 pm

    Damn, I should have taken a cab…just kidding. Obama said he would change the country and in so many ways he is succeeding. I’m almost 65 years old and I can barely recognize the country I grew up in and served almost a third of it in the Army. I pray we can outlast this person and not elect the next worst thing another Cliton into the oval office. Have a great day.

    • Jeff Slocum February 3, 2015, 3:53 pm

      Yeah, I agree Obama changed this country, he has done much for the good of the economy, and nearly as much toward the stripping of our rights. but our country was gutted under G. W. Bush. Bush repeatedly attempted to gut the constitutional limits on federal power, helped kill our economy with cronyism, and by selling our country for pennies on the dollar to a Communist Nation. This is a huge problem in this country, too many buy into this, it is either Democrat or Republican crap and blame one or the other for all of the woes of the country. When we wake up and realize we have had but one single President who had the citizens best interest at heart in over 35 years, that it has all been about POWER and $$$ and not at all about Upholding the Constitution, (let alone the Bill of Rights) with the possible exception of Jimmy Carter, then we can get back to rebuilding what we had before WWII. Blaming Obama is as if he is solely responsible is ridiculous, close minded and short sighted, we need to get over this shit and take back our country and our rights, not whine like the other 150 million bellyachers who blame Obama. It is past the time of blaming the people we allow to get elected and reelected, it is the time to do something about it as citizens of The United States of America. Funny thing is no one is really interested in doing shit, it takes work, it takes putting your words into action, so next time you are going to blame someone else for the mess this country is in, why don’t you stop and think what you are doing for this country. (Your Military Service is greatly appreciated, however not the same thing…)

      • Joe February 3, 2015, 6:28 pm

        Outstanding post, I only hope and pray more people realize and take action before it’s too late.
        But somehow all I for see is,” Who is boinking who in gay Hollywood back room lounges” is going to take precedence over what is tearing down our society and how to reverse it before it’s too late.

  • Bob Peck February 2, 2015, 12:44 pm

    Yes this is interesting news. One only needs to do a little research on some of the botched operations run by the ATF. In Milwaukee Wisconsin for example, there was their Fearless Distributing store front operation in which they attempted to buy guns and drugs from felons. In September 2013, an agent parked his Ford Explorer at the Alterra Coffee Shop on N. Humboldt Blvd., about a half mile away from their operation, with three ATF guns stored in a metal box in the back. About 3 p.m. Sept. 13, an Alterra employee spotted three men breaking into the Explorer. They stole three guns: a Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun, a Sig Sauer .40-caliber pistol and an M-4 .223-caliber fully automatic rifle. They also made off with ammunition and an ATF radio, according to a police report. It does not appear from the reports that the agent was at Alterra at the time of the break-in.
    The operation ran into more trouble in October 2013, when burglars broke into the building housing Fearless Distributing and cleaned out the ATF operation. The burglars made off with jewelry, clothing, auto parts, purses, Nike shoes and more, according to police reports. No one has been charged in the burglary.
    The lease states that the alarm is included in the rent. But shortly after Fearless moved in, Salkin said he told the people running the store he was cutting the phone line, which connected the alarm. He said he assumed they would hook up their own alarm. They did not.
    Then you need to look at the Fast and Furious Operation run out of Arizona. These guys clearly are idiots.
    So ATF or DEA people are going to monitor who attends gun shows? That is indeed a scary thought.

  • annette cheeves February 2, 2015, 12:17 pm

    Why would the “cartel operatives ” go to all the trouble paying for guns at a show when they’re free at the white house !

  • Joe February 2, 2015, 10:19 am

    Is big brother watching ?
    in a word…
    YES !!!

    • D February 2, 2015, 5:49 pm

      Of course the Government is watching us. People like us have been saying if for years. Yet so many people won’t wake up and realize it especially when it’s made public like this! What the detractors say to us when we tell them about it is, “We’re nuts” or, “Well, I have nothing to hide” They miss the point. We don’t live in some communist country (yet) so we don’t have to put up with crap like this. Furthermore the only reason it keeps happening is because it’s tolerated and we’re allowing it to happen.

      It needs to stop and the Government needs to get back to being the a Government instead of a bunch of Despots. There are plenty of terrorists and illegals they aren’t doing anything about but they have all the time in the world to worry about the legal and private sale of firearms?

      It’s disgusting and proof that there are a lot of 3 letter agencies in the Government that are way too over funded and should be disbanded. Obviously they have nothing better to do if they have to reach this far and their funding should go elsewhere. I love my country for what it was founded on but boy oh boy are they getting away from those principles.

      I’m all for law and order and law enforcement but there is a big difference between genuine law enforcement and nazi like practices as in this case. This crap needs to stop! This is America!

      • Jeff February 3, 2015, 3:04 pm

        While I totally agree with you, the problem is much deeper, and much more widespread. But first, you said this was made “Public”. Where was this made “Public”? Did you see it on the World News? The Local ABC or NBC affiliates? BBC?, BBC AMERICA? Al Jazeera? Did you read it in the Newspapers? I don’t think so. And while we were made aware of it, these things are not going to hit the NEWS… Combine this with all the other crap people are actually paying attention to, and it’s no wonder people “won’t wake up and realize it” and people say “We’re nuts”. The biggest being all of the unsubstantial conspiracy theory bullshite that is floated around on the internet as absolute fact. I am astounded by the amount of articles from the Onion or the World News Daily Report that is taken as fact by the gullible and touted as fact by people day in and day out. And that is just topping on the cake of the truly bat shit crazy conspiracies people get wrapped up in every day. People cannot be bothered to find, or look up anything for themselves anymore. People read a blurb on the ol’ interweb, whether based in fact or not they do not know, nor does it seem to matter, they just take a side and flame each other. Combine this with our slanted media outlets who ALL have agendas and financial backing or threats to pull advertising in order to control the news we are spoon fed, and what have you got? Hand picked stories, false news, fake news, and when we do get millions of people to agree on something it is online whiners complaining that Elton John’s partner wore an ugly hat on Kimmel.

        See, what you and I are talking about has become niche news to the rest of the USA. And it seems like a growing trend. Like Gun owners finding their sites they like and reading about all things gun related, including the license plate reader article. Do you think the 315 million people that could give a crap about gun shows or are against gun shows care what the DEA and ATF did at a gun show in 2009? Unfortunately if it doesn’t directly effect them, most people could care less and do not and will not see these violations of our rights as a problem until we have tipped the scale so far toward total government control, that it will take a massive, revolting and horrifying event to wake them up. The “Well, I have nothing to hide” crowd more than misses the point, they have swallowed the Kool Aid.

  • Nelson Wood February 2, 2015, 8:32 am

    Maybe we are not interesting enough TODAY but what about TOMORROW? If the data resides somewhere and the administration changes, who can predict who and why we might become interesting in the future. Best bet: Use License Plate
    Readers only if a judge will certify that a temporary use is justified. Delete the data gained from the LPR immediately, once the “guilty” party is arrested.
    NW

  • Pete February 2, 2015, 7:32 am

    As soon as capabilities become real, the government takes advantage of them, usually without ‘permission’ or our knowledge. It started electronically with DARPA and Total Informational Awareness during W’s time and continues today. I like seeing the WSJ and ACLU on the same page on this issue. Assume that anything that can be tracked (your internet, credit cards, car, phone, text, voice, email, etc) is being tracked and stored. If their interest in you is big enough, the info will be used somehow. Thankfully most of us just are not interesting!

  • John February 2, 2015, 7:07 am

    A DMV list of all concealed carry permit owners in Missouri were illegally turned over to the Secret Service by the governor and attorney general. Missouri law expressly prohibited this, but of course, bugs the lord bye the democratic governor and attorney general.we Missouri State Legislature removed control of the list Columbus Day and placed it in the hands of the local sheriff’s department in response to this. Don’t ever think the government is in trying to track you.

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