Did the federal government plan to monitor gun show attendees five years ago using license plate readers – but kept it quiet until now?
That’s the charge being made by the ACLU in quoting an email from the Drug Enforcement Administration acquired under a Freedom of Information Act request.
The operation was to be conducted in Arizona by the DEA and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The April 2009 email stated 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 [license plate readers] at the gun shows.”
According to the ACLU:
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
The DEA says the program was cancelled, but even that assertion is under question.
“If the program was cancelled, why didn’t we get any documents reflecting that decision in response to our FOIA request?” the ACLU asked. “The agency should now release such documents, and also create and release a written policy that it will not target First Amendment-protected activity in the future.”
Read more at the ACLU’s website.
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