The NRA’s NSA Moment

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The National Rifle Association has been a steadfast vocal opponent to any gun-control proposal that involves a national gun owner database. But a report published by BuzzFeed on Wednesday indicates that the gun lobbying organization has compiled its own gun owner registry.

nra

The NRA has, for years, been working to acquire gun permit registration lists from State and county offices, gather names of new owners by scouring the records for gun-safety classes taught by NRA-certified instructors and by buying lists of gun show attendees and subscribers to gun magazines and newsletters.

BuzzFeed contributor Steve Friess reports:

The result: a Big Data powerhouse that deploys the same high-tech tactics all year round that the vaunted Obama campaign used to win two presidential elections.

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam declined to discuss the group’s name-gathering methods or what it does with its vast pool of data about millions of non-member gun owners. Asked what becomes of the class rosters for safety classes when instructors turn them in, he replied: “That’s not any of your business.”

Others in the business of big political data, however, say the NRA is using similar tools to those employed by the campaigns of its nemesis, President Barack Obama.

“There are certainly some parallels,” said Laura Quinn, CEO of Catalist, a data analysis firm used by Obama for America. “The NRA is not only able to understand people who their members are but also people who are not their members. The more data they have, the more it allows them test different strategies and different messages on different people.”

“Part of the way they have gotten to a place where they are able to do what they do is through data,” Quinn said. “There is some irony.”

The vast size of the NRA’s database and its sophisticated methods of analyzing the public mood go a long way to explaining the organization’s enduring influence. Even in an age when opinion polls show gun control measures gaining in general popularity and when wealthy benefactors like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are spending millions to counter the NRA’s lobbying and advertising budgets, the NRA has built-in advantages.

The NRA won’t say how many names and what other personal information is in its database, but former NRA lobbyist Richard Feldman estimates they keep tabs on “tens of millions of people.”

While American liberals have used the BuzzFeed piece to call the NRA hypocritical for compiling a database much like the government database it has so vehemently opposed, the critics miss an important point: The NRA, a private organization, is likely identifying gun owners in a bid to strengthen the pro-gun lobby; meanwhile, the Federal government wants its own gun owner database to use a potential tool for gun confiscation in certain situations.

National Review noted in response to the BuzzFeed piece:

It’s astronomically unlikely that the NRA would ever use this data as part of an effort of national gun confiscation. The purchasing of magazine subscriber lists — hey, that’s been around for a long time. …

… The BuzzFeed article seems to emphasize the theme of hypocrisy, or to suggest that gun owners should be or will be up in arms about the NRA using all this data to beat back gun-control efforts. Somehow I suspect that a lot of gun owners will respond, “Well, it’s about time!”

In an era where the Federal government has demonstrated its ability to force private entities turn over user and customer data per PATRIOT Act and other anti-terror laws, however, gun owners should be careful not to feel too comfortable with the NRA database. The lobbying group may end up shooting its supporters in the foot, having already done the dirty work if the National Security Agency should decide it would like a gun owner database of its own.

It is also worth mentioning that the NRA has found itself on both sides of the gun debate over the decades (as we noted here in January).

Personal Liberty

Sam Rolley

Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After covering community news and politics, Rolley took a position at Personal Liberty Media Group where could better hone his focus on his true passions: national politics and liberty issues. In his daily columns and reports, Rolley works to help readers understand which lies are perpetuated by the mainstream media and to stay on top of issues ignored by more conventional media outlets.

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  • Motov

    Seems to me everyone is collecting data, from stores that issue “Reward Cards” that track every purchase you make in that store, To banks who issue debit cards that track all of your purchases, I’m old fashioned, I use cash. I use my checks only for bill payments.

    • Nadzieja Batki

      Motov, how do you get your cash from the bank without them registering what they give you. When you pay at the grocery store or any store they have cameras pointing at the register so they know who is doing what. Americans are more anonymous when they use credit cards or debit cards as opposed to people who stick out when they use cash.
      By the way, name compiling has been done by NRA since its first subscription so that is basically innocuous. I don’t worry about this, but I would be concerned if NRA was infiltrated by the Dems/Progs/Leftists and they moved into leadership positions and were changing policy stance.

      • Motov

        Cash gives you more privacy than credit/debit cards do. Most cash registers are hooked up to computers, cash requires really good hardware/software to ID you. We all face the same hacking problem, data base scandals etc, of our data “falling into the wrong hands” I certainly don’t trust government to do anything right.

        • Vis Fac

          Newest gizmo (app) is photo recognition software accessing your account used by retailers can scan your photo and have instant access to all your information and withdraw funds from your account. The BEAST is here all the better to begin the barter system.

          The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing–Edmund Burke

          A republic is defined as a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president…

          Our republic no longer exists because we have an omnipotent self centered clown in the Oval office who is as unconstitutional as anyone can be. Anyone believing
          we still live in a republic had best take notice of what OUR elected officials are doing WITHOUT OUR consent. Our republic no longer exists because the people no longer have power!

          Benjamin Franklin once said … A democracy can be best described as two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb
          contesting the vote.”

          Our Republic that allows for a well armed sheep to contest the vote!” shall soon be a fond memory for our rubber stamp liberally controlled congress is eagerly waiting to disarm us.

          Libertas inaestimabilis res est

          Semper-Fi

          • Motov

            That is if they have a camera. Accessing my current account is highly improbable

          • Vis Fac

            A lot of retail establishments are gearing up for this application I think our government is behind all of this The less informed gobble all these applications and gizmos up like candy and none the wiser. RFID chips have been around for a while and been quite effective collecting and storing consumers buying habits how much they spend and how much on what places they visit how long they spend there even email addresses and phone numbers.

            I refuse to have a credit card I refuse to use technology that has the capability to store and or transmit images or data that I cannot control. I’m saying no to big brother as mush as possible let him work for his information.

            Yeah I know we are all recorded photographed thousands of times a day all without our consent. However it’s hard to find me where I am I blend in to the landscape as much as possible I have trees afford me a measure of invisibility and I have some appropriate firepower should they wish to employ drones. But first they must know where to look.

            The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil
            is that Good Men Do Nothing–Edmund Burke

            A republic is defined as a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president…

            Our republic no longer exists because we have an omnipotent self centered clown in the Oval office who is as unconstitutional as anyone can be. Anyone believing
            we still live in a republic had best take notice of what OUR elected officials are doing WITHOUT OUR consent. Our republic no longer exists because the people no longer have power!

            Benjamin Franklin once said … A democracy can be best described as two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb
            contesting the vote.”

            Our Republic that allows for a well armed sheep to contest the vote!” shall soon be a fond memory for our rubber stamp liberally controlled congress
            is eagerly waiting to disarm us.

            Libertas inaestimabilis res est

            Semper-Fi

          • Motov

            I had a credit card just once, that lasted 6 months tops.
            They attempted to shove car insurance down my throat because like most people who do not want things, throw away the application. (I was told I had to send it back with a rejection notice over the phone) I told them I’ll see them in court, they reversed the charges, after my final bill arrived and was paid my card made a trip out to the fire pit. Every charge card application goes there to this day except their free return envelopes, they get filled with outdated coupons and mailed (never with anything with my name and address)

          • Vis Fac

            Nearly 30 years ago I had someone open up several credit cards in my name and charged close to $75K without my knowledge. Despite signatures not matching or complete history (including my mother’s maiden name) they were able to open several accounts accounts I was on the hook for.

            I refused paying and as a result had a bad credit score for several years thereafter. The accounts were turned over for collections and eventually sold to third and fourth parties hoping to collect. People don’t realize these companies that buy old debt do so because we feel obligated to pay even though we aren’t legally bound to do so. I was once threatened by a collection agency and told them the debts weren’t mine and I have no intention of remitting payment after the second call I was not contacted again

            It was probably the best thing that could have happened . Not only do I not owe anyone I am free from being tracked and harassment from collection agencies.

            The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing–Edmund Burke

            A republic is defined as a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president…

            Our republic no longer exists because we have an omnipotent self centered clown in the Oval office who is as unconstitutional as anyone can be. Anyone believing
            we still live in a republic had best take notice of what OUR elected officials are doing WITHOUT OUR consent. Our republic no longer exists because the people no longer have power!

            Benjamin Franklin once said … A democracy can be best described as two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb
            contesting the vote.”

            Our Republic that allows for a well armed sheep to contest the vote!” shall soon be a fond memory for our rubber stamp liberally controlled congress is eagerly waiting to disarm us.

            Libertas inaestimabilis res est

            Semper-Fi

      • JJM123

        Electronic transfers are so much easier to track. If they want to track, make it as difficult as possible.

      • Vis Fac

        Cameras aren’t everywhere I avoid cameras when and where ever possible I would advise everyone to have only a small amount of cash in the bank and nothing in safe keeping. Banks are the De Facto owners of whatever is inside their property.

        Since interest rates on savings are so low it makes little sense risking your savings should the economy collapse and the bank shuts its doors. You will not have access to their property as your property is now theirs.

        Long ago I traded my paper for tangible assets knowing the US Dollar will be worthless. It is being devalued daily by printing of more “ODUMBO BUCKS” and people don’t seem to care.

        Austerity measures in Greece should have been a wake up call but apathy and governments’ lies have kept people at ease. To each their own do as you see fit. You have been warned.

        The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing–Edmund Burke

        A republic is defined as a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president…

        Our republic no longer exists because we have an omnipotent self centered clown in the Oval office who is as unconstitutional as anyone can be. Anyone believing we still live in a republic had best take notice of what OUR elected officials are doing WITHOUT OUR consent. Our republic no longer exists because the people no longer have power!

        Benjamin Franklin once said … A democracy can be best described as two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”

        Our Republic that allows for a well armed sheep to contest the vote!” shall soon be a fond memory for our rubber stamp liberally controlled congress is eagerly waiting to disarm us.

        Libertas inaestimabilis res est

        Semper-Fi

      • Vis Fac

        Cameras aren’t everywhere I avoid cameras when and where ever possible I would advise everyone to have only a small amount of cash in the bank and nothing in safe keeping. Banks are the De Facto owners of whatever is inside their property.

        Since interest rates on savings are so low it makes little sense risking your savings should the economy collapse and the bank shuts its doors. You will not have access to their property as your property is now theirs.

        Long ago I traded my paper for tangible assets knowing the US Dollar will be worthless. It is being devalued daily by printing of more “ODUMBO BUCKS” and people don’t seem to care.

        Austerity measures in Greece should have been a wake up call but apathy and governments’ lies have kept people at ease. To each their own do as you see fit. You have been warned.

        The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing–Edmund Burke

        A republic is defined as a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president…

        Our republic no longer exists because we have an omnipotent self centered clown in the Oval office who is as unconstitutional as anyone can be. Anyone believing we still live in a republic had best take notice of what OUR elected officials are doing WITHOUT OUR consent. Our republic no longer exists because the people no longer have power!

        Benjamin Franklin once said … A democracy can be best described as two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”

        Our Republic that allows for a well armed sheep to contest the vote!” shall soon be a fond memory for our rubber stamp liberally controlled congress is eagerly waiting to disarm us.

        Libertas inaestimabilis res est

        Semper-Fi

    • Vis Fac

      You forgot two of the largest data collection ruses Government has complete axis to Social media People are so interested in providing data on their petty ego pages not realizing this data can be used to disqualify you from employment result in an arrest and government scrutiny. The other is those so called give away programs for various trips and items. We’ve all seen them at Fairs and public gatherings where you submit you name address phone number and email for a “chance” drawing of some sort People are SOOOOO gullible.

      I do not have any credit cards nor a debit card like you any payment I need to make is by check or cash. We are quite rural and most of my business is by bartering with others. All parties are satisfied and nothing is subject to tax no paper trail to follow. I feel this is to become the mode of trade in the not too distant future because the economy is headed for collapse.

      The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing–Edmund Burke

      A republic is defined as a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president…

      Our republic no longer exists because we have an omnipotent self centered clown in the Oval office who is as unconstitutional as anyone can be. Anyone believing we still live in a republic had best take notice of what OUR elected officials are doing WITHOUT OUR consent. Our republic no longer exists because the people no longer have power!

      Benjamin Franklin once said … A democracy can be best described as two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”

      Our Republic that allows for a well armed sheep to contest the vote!” shall soon be a fond memory for our rubber stamp liberally controlled congress is eagerly waiting to disarm us.

      Libertas inaestimabilis res est

      Semper-Fi

  • hardh9

    Motov, I do the same. But let me also add that I trust the NRA much more than the NSA or the police state we euphemistically call the US government.

    • Motov

      I agree with you, I’m pointing out everyone does this these days. Stores do this so they can serve you better by making sure your favorite product(s) are available, It also helps keep their inventories smaller.

  • Chester

    Funny thing is, if you have bought any firearm legally, through any dealer, within the last twenty years or so, you ARE already a registered gun owner. Odds are that if you have sold the gun you originally bought, you replaced it from someone else’s collection, so are still a gun owner. It used to be that the only guns that required registration at the time of sale were handguns, and those were only so the local law enforcement had time to make sure you weren’t a convicted felon. Now, every gun, even that little 22 single shot learner, has to be registered.

  • IAMGOINGTOPUKE

    What is to prevent the FEDS with a court order to get the NRA database list?

  • CWA

    LET’S ALL PANIC!!!!! Now, the NRA can send out armed agents to confiscate every firearm in the country, leaving all of us defenseless!

    Of course, those of us with brains know that only the government wants to do that, but what the hell. Let’s make a big deal out this story anyway.

    • ibn insha

      Government can, with a court order, get its hands on that data. Don’t forget that.

      • Jimmy the Greek

        They could shred every thing be for Zog gets there ,

  • http://betamaxmas.com/ Major Domo

    The NSA has already hacked that database and has it’s own copy. Just goes to show you, can’t trust ANYBODY. Hey NRA, shred it while you still can.

  • Christopher Koda

    So why are you all still voting for the 46 Democrats that voted to ratify the UN Small Arms Treaty?