September 6th, 2013

NRA Joins Lawsuit Against Federal Phone Surveillance Programs

NSA phone surveillance eff.orgThe NRA has joined in an ACLU lawsuit challenging the Federal government’s vast domestic telephone surveillance program. Currently the National Security Agency (NSA) captures billions of telephone call records in a vast data-mining operation. As those records could reveal every person who makes a call to the NRA, shooting club, or gun store, the NRA claims the NSA call-tracking program could be used to create a de facto national gun registry. The NSA and/or other government agencies could easily create a list to identify and locate gun owners: “The government could simply demand the periodic submission of all firearms dealers’ transaction records, then centralize them in a database indexed by the buyers’ names for later searching.”

The NRA argued: “It would be absurd to think that the Congress would adopt and maintain a web of statutes intended to protect against the creation of a national gun registry, while simultaneously authorizing the FBI and the NSA to gather records that could effectively create just such a registry”.

The NRA claims the Federal Government’s telephone surveillance programs is unconstitutional: “The mass surveillance program threatens the First Amendment rights of the NRA and its members. The mass surveillance program could allow identification of NRA members, supporters, potential members, and other persons with whom the NRA communicates, potentially chilling their willingness to communicate with the NRA.”

The ACLU’s lawsuit, ACLU vs. Clapper, seeks an injunction to halt the NSA’s phone-surveillance program and also force the Federal Government to expunge all of its phone call records. Named defendants in the ACLU lawsuit the National Security Agency, the FBI, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Justice. The ACLU has welcomed the NRA’s participation in the lawsuit: “The range of voices joining the protest against mass government surveillance — not to mention the bipartisan storm that has swept Congress since the recent NSA disclosures — is a real testament to the fact that the government’s dragnet surveillance practices are offensive to Americans from across the political spectrum”.

Along with the NRA, other organizations have joined in the ACLU lawsuit against the NSA’s surveillance programs. These include the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and several news organizations including Fox, National Public Radio, Bloomberg News and The New Yorker. In fact even Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin filed supporting briefs. Sensenbrenner is a co-author of the 2001 Patriot Act, which the NSA has cited as authority for its data-gathering program. Sensenbrenner believes that NSA’s vast phone-logging operations have gone well beyond anything contemplated by Congress in passing the Patriot Act.

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February 22nd, 2012

Canada’s House of Commons Votes to Repeal Long-Gun Registry

Canada long-gun registryLast week in Ottawa, Canada’s House of Commons voted to nullify a long-gun registry law that had been in place since 1995. The bill still needs to be ratified by the Canadian Senate. However, because Conservatives hold a majority in the Senate, most experts believe the repeal of the Registry is a “done deal” as soon as the repeal legislation goes up for final vote in the Canadian Senate.

The Chronicle Herald reports: “The vote effectively puts the registry on life support; all that remains is for the Senate to pull the plug. Since the Conservatives enjoy a commanding majority in the upper chamber as well, the Registry’s fate is sealed.” Liberal Senate leader James Cowan conceded: “They’ve got the majority and unless something extraordinary happens, it will pass.” Unfortunately, the Calgary Herald also predicted that Liberals might try to delay the Senate vote for weeks or even months.

If the Conservatives succeed in dismantling the Registry, tens of thousands of Registry records would be deep-sixed. That idea is popular with critics of the Registry: “the Harper government’s further directive to destroy all the data is a mammoth victory of the people over Big Brother” (Calgary Sun). Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said of the registry, “It does nothing to help put an end to gun crimes, nor has it saved one Canadian life. It criminalizes hard-working and law-abiding citizens such as farmers and sport shooters, and it has been a billion-dollar boondoggle left to us by the previous Liberal government.”

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March 5th, 2009

Canadian Politician Introduces Bill to Scrap Long-Gun Registry

The Canadian Firearms Registry is a government-run registry of all legally-owned guns in Canada. Compulsory gun registration was written into the Firearms Act (Bill 68) in 1995, which also provided for the establishment of a centralized database. It requires every firearm in Canada to be registered or rendered in an unusable state. This was an effort to reduce crime by making every gun traceable. Any person wishing to obtain a firearm must first acquire a Possession and Acquisition Licence or PAL.

MP Garry Breitkreuz

$2 Billion Tab for Failed Gun Registry
The Registry was supposed to cost Canadian taxpayers approximately $119 million dollars. Instead, documents obtained by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation show the program has cost upward of $2 BILLION dollars. At the same time there is little evidence that the Registry has had any notable effect on crime.

MP Garry BreitkreuzThere has been intense opposition to the Firearms Registry since its beginnings, and now the drive to eliminate the Registry has gained force. In the NationalPost.com website, Canadian Member of Parliament (MP) Garry Breitkreuz has called for the abolition of the long-gun Registry. MP Breitkreuz has introduced new legislation, Bill C-301, that would dismantle the long-gun provisions of the Registry.

Breitkreuz argues: “The Gun Registry has not saved one life in Canada, and it has been a financial sinkhole, estimated to have cost some $2 Billion. Imagine how many more police we could have on the streets if we had invested more wisely…. We need to dismantle the wasteful, futile registry and abandon the notion that this political pacifier is working.

Bill C-301 will scrap the long-gun Registry, improve efficiency and reduce costs without having any negative impact on public safety. The bill introduces a number of amendments to streamline the Firearms Act…. The Auditor-General has already blown the whistle on the gun registry. My bill proposes to ask for regular independent cost-benefit analyses on all aspects of the firearms program every five years.

Many Canadians have come to realize that the long-gun Registry is merely a bureaucratic exercise designed to lay a piece of paper beside every gun in the country. That piece of paper has no effect on the criminal and does nothing to prevent the misuse of a firearm.”

MP Breitkreuz’ efforts have been applauded by Canadian citizens writing to the National Post:

“[Canada’s Gun Registry] was a ‘paper’ ideological exercise which has proven worse than useless.” — Robins

“The Firearms Act as it exists is an incredible drain on much needed financial resources while giving very little of value in return. Streamlining the redundant, byzantine and costly bureaucracy is a worthy goal”. — Chuckbuster

“The gun registry was SUPPOSED to ‘make our streets safer’. It is beyond me how a slip of paper sent to law abiding persons was ever going to accomplish this task. The registry was always about confiscation of firearms. Despite political promises at the time, that it was ONLY for safety, it has shown itself time and time again, to be a tool of confiscation of legally-owned property. Time for it to go.” — Anopheses

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