Feds scanned gun show license plates; 2A group calls for probe

People lining up for a gun show (this one was in Washington State in 2013) would be furious if police were recording their license plates (Dave Workman photo)
People lining up for a gun show (this one was in Washington State in 2013) would be furious if police were recording their license plates (Dave Workman photo)

The Wall Street Journal has revealed that federal agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement “persuaded” local police officers in Southern California in 2010 to scan the license plates of gun show customers, and now a major firearm civil rights organization wants Congress to investigate.

The Second Amendment Foundation on Monday called on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to investigate what it called a “civil rights outrage.” SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb said in a news release that the effort appears to have been “one more gun control affront launched during the Obama administration.”

According to the WSJ story, once the plates had been scanned, “Agents then compared that information to cars that crossed the border, hoping to find gun smugglers, according to the documents and interviews with law-enforcement officials with knowledge of the operation.”

The newspaper quoted Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, who criticized the surveillance

“Information on law-abiding gun owners ends up getting recorded, stored, and registered, which is a violation of the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act and of the Second Amendment,” Pratt told the newspaper.

But Gottlieb went further, saying that “it is none of the government’s business who comes and goes at a lawfully-operated gun show.” He said such activity should only be conducted after a judge has signed off on it.

“Attending a gun show is not a criminal activity,” Gottlieb said. “American citizens engaged in a perfectly legal activity should not have to worry about the government monitoring their exercise of various civil rights, including freedom of association and the right to keep and bear arms.”

The newspaper also quoted Jay Stanley, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, who said the surveillance “highlights the problem with mass collection of data.”

Stanley explained that by doing this sort of license plate scan, two “entirely legal activities” (buying guns and crossing a border) become linked to criminal activity, and thus fall under suspicion.

“Instead of worrying about people attending gun shows,” Gottlieb said, “maybe the same attention could have been paid to criminals walking guns across the border under the Fast and Furious fiasco. Oh, wait, that was a debacle created by government agents, also during the Obama administration.”

Gottlieb said that if this kind of surveillance had been done in relation to any activity “other than a gun show,” the liberal media and activists would be raising a ruckus.


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