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.”