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NRA Joins ACLU Lawsuit Against NSA 531

Posted by timothy
from the but-don't-worry-nics-remains-unimpeachable dept.
cold fjord writes with this excerpt from The Hill: "The National Rifle Association joined the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit on Wednesday to end the government's massive phone record collection program. In a brief filed in federal court, the NRA argues that the National Security Agency's database of phone records amounts to a 'national gun registry.' '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 group writes. ... In its filing, the gun-rights group claims that the NSA's database would allow the government to identify and track gun owners based on whether they've called gun stores, shooting ranges or the NRA. 'Under the government's reading of Section 215, 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 writes."
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NRA Joins ACLU Lawsuit Against NSA

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 05, 2013 @03:44PM (#44768243)

    When the NRA and ACLU both oppose something, you know it's bad for everyone.

    • by Nadaka (224565) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @03:53PM (#44768319)

      I've actually donated to both organizations. Though the ACLU generally does much more good than the NRA.

      • by Arker (91948) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @05:03PM (#44769083) Homepage

        I havent donated to the NRA in decades. They are too soft on the second amendment. The fact that even they recognise this has gone too far speaks volumes.

      • by hutsell (1228828)

        I've actually donated to both organizations. Though the ACLU generally does much more good than the NRA.

        This is awesome vindication from a personal perspective. I've been an active, card carrying member of both the NRA and the ACLU for more than a decade and could never quite understand how most members of each organization could dislike each other so much. Although I never went out of the way to keep it a secret from either side, I had a tendency to avoid conflict with members when they would express their blanket dislike of the other organization — due to when it was known, I would get what I felt wa

    • But in this instance it's for the common good. Serandpity on that. :)

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Sponge Bath (413667)
        I serandpity the fool!
      • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @04:32PM (#44768725) Homepage

        I'm a non-gun owner but I recognize and understand the value and the importance of the right. And ironically, the moment I no longer have the legal right to own a gun is the very moment I will seek to own one. I see gun ownership as a natural right, not a legal one. The right to defend one's self is a natural right and I will exercise it when I feel the need to. (I am lucky. I have never needed to. But I'm not foolish enough to think I will NEVER need to. And yes, I know I am actually making the argument that I need to buy a gun NOW, but that's another talk.)

        What I find more threatening than not owning a gun is that people KNOW I do not own a gun or don't have one with me at the moment. I will NEVER eat at Denny's again knowing that they are a "gun free kill zone." It's disgusting and obvious that making it an offense to carry in a Denny's makes everyone within MUCH more vulnerable to attack by criminals who don't care about the signs on the doors. I know why they do it -- because a bunch of frightened idiots might feel uncomfortable eating in such places. Trouble is, you only need to google "denny's gun free zone" to find a long list of news stories about Denny's restaurants being robbed at gunpoint and people getting shot and killed by actual criminals. (There is also the occasional story about an illegal gun carrier thwarting a crime in Denny's.)

        Let's all agree that having guns is dangerous. (The discussion that follows that agreement should be about how dangerous it actually is and then we'll start making car and driver analogies.) But here's the thing I can't get past. When people have good reason to believe that large groups of people are unarmed, there's quite certainly a much higher chance that such locations will be exploited by criminals...usually criminals with guns. That makes anti-gun law and policy FAR more dangerous than gun ownership... far more dangerous to the very [civilian/pedestrian] people who think they want anti-gun legislation and policy.

        When I think "V" I think victory. Seems most people are more comfortable with "V" for victimhood.

        • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @05:03PM (#44769079)

          "I see gun ownership as a natural right, not a legal one."

          It *IS* a so-called "natural right", and not a legal one.

          The Constitution does not "grant" rights. It acknowledges the pre-existence of rights due every human being, which the government may not infringe. There is a very big difference.

    • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @03:57PM (#44768357) Homepage Journal

      The NRA and ACLU were joint petitioners to the Clinton Administration trying to restrain a patter of abuses by Federal law enforcement. (Clinton ignored them).

      • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @05:01PM (#44769045)
        More recently:

        In 2006, the ACLU of Washington State joined with a pro-gun rights organization, the Second Amendment Foundation, and prevailed in a lawsuit against the North Central Regional Library District (NCRL) in Washington for its policy of refusing to disable restrictions upon an adult patron's request. Library patrons attempting to access pro-gun web sites were blocked, and the library refused to remove the blocks...

        In light of the Supreme Court's Heller decision recognizing that the Constitution protects an individual right to bear arms, ACLU of Nevada took a position of supporting "the individual's right to bear arms subject to constitutionally permissible regulations" and pledged to "defend this right as it defends other constitutional rights".[298] Since 2008, the ACLU has increasingly assisted gun owners recover firearms that have been seized illegally by law enforcement.

        wiki [slashdot.org] Even more relevant and recently, they opposed creating a national database of background checks this year, [dailycaller.com] evidently because of medical information [aclu.org].

    • It's more of a cultural divide than a ideological divide between the two. The ACLU really isn't pro gun control. Look at their wikipedia page. They've opposed several gun control measures based on privacy issues.

      I know some gun rights advocates dislike them for their stated interpretation of the second amendment, but I really can't fathom how they get upset at that position. Nor can I understand how gun rights advocates get mad at them for not really working to uphold the second amendment. The NRA i
  • by halfEvilTech (1171369) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @03:44PM (#44768245)

    When the NRA, EFF, ACLU and the author of the [un]Patriot Act are all against it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by i kan reed (749298)

      Not, especially. Even if the NRA prop up an industry by manipulating US politics, all 3 organizations share the stated goals of protecting citizens' rights.

      • by Quila (201335) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @04:02PM (#44768407)

        Even if the NRA prop up an industry by manipulating US politics

        You mean influences US politics on behalf of its millions of members, and millions more like-minded non-members. Kind of like the ACLU.

        What you said is like saying the EFF only does what it does in order to prop up Internet services companies because they profit from a free and open Internet.

        • That would be a reasonable assessment if the EFF took positions contrary to that of most of its members but beneficial to the ISPs.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by T.E.D. (34228)

          Let's not be disinenuous. I think we all know that the NRA is quite a bit more than a meer club, and is in a whole different class than the ACLU.

          The closest analog really is the ASL [wikipedia.org] (anti-saloon league) from a century ago. This organization didn't meerly lobby for its point of view, but organized its members (small in number, but very zealous) to surgically target specific close congressional races with emotion-laden propaganda to take out any congressman in all but the safest wet districts who didn't bra

          • As far as lobbying and lawsuits go, NRA is a single-issue version of the ACLU, necessary because he ACLU has chosen to not recognize that one amendment.

            Not that the NRA does great on that. They're a little too willing to accede to the rights-violators' demands. The GOA is better in this.

        • by Tailhook (98486)

          5 million dues-paying members. Better than 1.5% of the population of the US voluntarily buy an NRA membership. When you exclude organizations that have as their mandate establishing or protecting some government provided benefit there are damn few left with that level of direct citizen participation. To my mind that puts the NRA among the most legitimate pressure groups in existence.

          This isn't some endowment funded outfit that claims to represent some part of the population. Millions pay to be counted.

    • "By your powers combined, I am Captain Lobbyist!"
    • by amstrad (60839) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @04:01PM (#44768403)
      Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!
      • by Krojack (575051)

        Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

        Bill Fuckin' Murray? What are you doing on Slashdot?

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @03:50PM (#44768295) Journal

    Such tracking is exactly the kind of thing the King of England would have used against the Founding Fathers, and would have been banned by them after the Revolution, which would have been very much less likely with "metadata" gathering and tracking of who called whom, whether it be gun shops or other supporting people.

    Saying "metadata" isn't protected is the biggest fraud in recent history. We must continue backing the government away from building the tools of tyranny. It makes no difference that they "use it wisely" currently. Don't let it get started at all.

    This is for the weak-minded who get upset over "absolutism". Go read the Bill of Rights.

    • Since you asked me to read the bill of rights again...

      Yeah, see, there's this part about well-regulated militias that the word "metadata" might be pertinent to. I'm actually angry at you for giving such a crappy argument in support of an action I support myself. Stop making me look stupid.

      • there's this part about well-regulated militia

        Read the Militia Act sometime. You might be unaware that you're a member.

        • by swamp boy (151038)

          This part?

          "That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia"

      • by Zcar (756484) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @04:55PM (#44768977)

        Which, grammatically, isn't explanatory not operative. The operative part of the 2nd Amendment is, in full, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." In modern construction and words (based on Supreme Court decisions, specifically Heller and Miller) the full amendment would be something like, "Because a well-trained militia is necessary to the security of a free state, the right of individuals to keep and bear arms of military usefulness shall not be infringed." The first clause only explains why it's not be infringed; it doesn't impose a limit upon it.

        Well, Miller did somewhat limit it based on the militia clause, by saying a firearm which wasn't demonstrated to be militarily useful was not protected, implying that if it had been demonstrated to be militarily useful it would be protected. So, under Miller, an assault rifle (obviously of military usefulness) would be protected but maybe not a break action shotgun. It's an odd case, at any rate, since Miller had died before it reached the Court and his side didn't argue before the Court.

    • The idea that they "use it wisely" is very questionable based on what's leaked out so far.

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @03:52PM (#44768309)
    Pew! Pew! Pew!
  • by kruach aum (1934852) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @03:55PM (#44768343)

    "The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."

  • by StuartHankins (1020819) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @04:00PM (#44768389)
    If the NRA already collects names, who's to say they don't share them with the government already, willingly or unwillingly? Seems like a pretty easy nut to crack... and oh boy they have a lot of nuts in that org.
    • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @04:24PM (#44768619) Homepage Journal

      If the NRA already collects names, who's to say they don't share them with the government already, willingly or unwillingly? Seems like a pretty easy nut to crack... and oh boy they have a lot of nuts in that org.

      Any way you can say the same thing without coming off as a biased asshole?

      Maybe you should try attending a meeting sometime. you know, actually meet some of your neighbors, whom you readily write off as "nuts," and get to know them?

  • ...but they do have a valid point with this one. Right or wrong, Congress has forbidden state & Federal agencies (e.g. FBI, ATF, etc.) from putting together a list of gun owners. Period. It wouldn't take any stretch of the imagination to realize that the "government" (NSA, FBI, ATF, etc.) would have 99% of the gun owners' phone numbers out there simply by querying for phone numbers of gun shops, ranges, etc. All it would take is for an NSA snoop to do a simple SQL query "WHERE phone_num in ('222-333
    • Yes, but what's awful, is that somehow possibly knowing how people used the 2nd amendment rights is worse or more worth stopping than knowing precisely how everyone uses their 1st amendment rights.

      • by JWW (79176)

        Um. I think what the NRA and the ACLU are saying here is that its the SAME.

  • This isn't exactly a new opinion for NRA members. A little over a year ago my grandpa's brother told me he always pays cash for bullets and anything resembling ammo at hardware and sporting goods stores just in case the government has some secret database or something. He's pretty level headed and he even said if he didn't have the cash, he'd pay credit and not really care. It was just something there was a rumor to do and it sounded true-ish. Well surprise, here's the NSA. CC companies don't typically
  • In a brief filed in federal court, the NRA argues that the National Security Agency's database of phone records amounts to a 'national gun registry

    This may be the most ludicrous argument I have ever heard. With that said, the NRA is extremely effective at forcing themselves onto the legislative system and repeatedly gang-banging it until they're raw and left shooting only puffs of dust. With support like that, it might almost be possible to get the current amount of unconstitutional spying scaled back.

  • So ... there's a new Debian release coming up?
  • by holophrastic (221104) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @04:42PM (#44768833)

    I must say, I really do find your checks and balances system of government hilarious. So you can't stop a government-funded association from spying on you directly -- even in a democracy -- but you can stop them from accidentally discovering one particular piece of data that someone once said shouldn't be collected.

    Interesting. Screwed up, but interesting.

  • by Jiro (131519) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @05:52PM (#44769637)

    The summary's accurately summarizing a halfway misleading article here.

    According to the first half, the NRA thinks that the NSA's database is equivalent to a national gun registry.

    According to the second half, the NRA thinks that the NSA's argument for its database would justify creating a national gun registry, not that the NSA is creating one.

    If you read the actual court brief, it's a lot closer to the second than to the first.

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