Are you starting to forget just how creepy government agencies can be when they decide to spy on average (law abiding) citizens? Well, this should help refocus your distrust of big government. According to AP News:
The Drug Enforcement Administration abandoned an internal proposal to use surveillance cameras for photographing vehicle license plates near gun shows in the United States to investigate gun-trafficking, the agency's chief said Wednesday.
Um, good… Also: “What the heck?”
So the DEA was planning on tracking everyone that went to a gun show? Wow… Nothing like being innocent until proven guilty, right? It might be time to start borrowing your liberal neighbor’s car for your trip to the gun range, gun store, and gun show. (And, just for good measure, drop by a tea party protest while you’re out.)
Michelle Leonhart, the DEA Administrator, said in a statement, that the proposal never got past the planning stages, and was never implemented. Ostensibly, this little foray into monitoring “pre-crime” would have given authorities the ability to combat illegal arms trafficking in the US. I mean sure, the Department of Justice is likely responsible for more gun trafficking than any gun show in the last ten years, but the DEA wanted to spy on you because Bloomberg told them about that notorious “gun show” loophole.
Of course, the “gun show loophole” is more of a cute leftist talking point than an actual thing. Commercial sellers are required by law to run background checks on every sale… Including at gun shows. Many states even require that any sale (including private sales) be subjected to a background check if it originates at a gun show. And, given that less than one percent of federal criminals actually purchased their guns at a gun show (with a majority of those sales having passed a background check), who would the Feds have been tracking at these events?
Well… You. And the other law abiding citizens like you. Heck, why don’t they just have gun owners stand in lines to register their weapons so it’s easier to keep track of --- oh… Never mind.
In all fairness, it is somewhat unlikely the DEA was gearing up to create a de facto gun registration list based off of attendees to gun shows. After all, they already have the alphabet of surveillance agencies (NSA, DHS, BATFE, FBI and others) to help them out if they decide to scrounge together an un-official registry. But it does show the growing distrust that government agencies have of their own citizenry. Generally speaking, fighting crime should focus on harassing criminals; not average citizens.
The dirty little secret is that government knows it can’t regulate away criminal behavior. Heck, half the time they can’t even monitor it. I guess it’s just a whole lot easier to target people who legally exercise their Second Amendment rights by going to a gun show.
In the end, this proposal was just one more way government can collect data about its citizens. Big Government, just like big business, has discovered the value of Big Data. The NSA analyzing Facebook posts, the FBI retrieving information from Google, and Dodd Frank collecting a treasure trove of consumer spending habits, are all a part of the same game. Data collection – from Facebook posts to license plates in gun show parking lots – helps to influence the marketing of policy proposals. It directs the political “priorities” of government insiders. Just like a Google ad in Gmail, government can use its data to manipulate, regulate, and restrict the behavior of its citizens.
Ultimately, the DEA decided against stalking gun show attendees through their license plates. But, let not your heart be worried: The NSA already knows you clicked on this article.