Feds Use Local Police to Collect License Plate Info at Gun Shows

Might want to park across the street… Privacy watchdog groups and firearms enthusiasts upset about spy tactics initiated by feds through local police.

gun show, privacy, wall street journal, license plate scan, police, ICE

A new report from the Wall Street Journal reveals that the federal government has on multiple occasions used local police departments to scan automobile license plates at gun shows. This has been done in an effort to collect and record information on gun show attendees.

The Journal reviewed a series of 2010 emails between the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) and police departments in Southern California, including one in Del Mar, near the Mexican border. In the emails, federal agents persuade local police to use license plate readers to randomly scan cars at local gun shows. The agency planned to cross-reference that data with cars crossing the Mexican border to find and prosecute gun smugglers.

And there’s more… According to the Journal, the emails indicated that this strategy could have been employed elsewhere around the country. ICE has no policy that dictates the use of license plate readers, and nothing would have kept them from continuing the practice from 2010 until now.

No shock: the report has upset both privacy watchdog groups and firearms enthusiasts. It clearly raises Constitutional questions, to say the least.

Erich Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, told the Journal that his group opposes such surveillance: “Information on law-abiding gun owners ends up getting recorded, stored, and registered, which is a violation of the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act and of the Second Amendment.”

What ICE doesn’t seem to realize is that, contrary to what the Clinton campaign would have us believe, gun shows are NOT hotbeds of criminal activity. According to an NIJ (National Institute of Justice, the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice) study released in December 1997 (“Homicide in Eight U.S. Cities”), only 2 percent of criminal guns come from gun shows. The vast majority of firearm sales at gun shows are being offered by federally-licensed gun dealers who must ensure that each customer passes a background check, which blocks firearms purchases by most known criminals as well as illegal immigrants. This is likely why, according to the Journal, “There is no indication the gun-show surveillance led to any arrests or investigative leads.”

No one familiar with gun shows would think to target attendees in an effort to locate criminals. Perhaps instead of invading the privacy of law-abiding gun show patrons, ICE should use its taxpayer dollars to target straw purchasers and criminals who steal firearms, both more likely sources of illegal guns than random gun show attendees.

What do you think?

4 thoughts on “Feds Use Local Police to Collect License Plate Info at Gun Shows”

  1. MY take on this whole debacle, is that the FEDERAL SPIES are making local police officers do their bidding, by making them do an ILLEGAL database of gun owners and firearms enthusiasts. THAT WAY they will know where the guns ARE and where you live when they get it in their feeble brains to confiscate your guns.

    1. My take is they don’t the manpower to check license plates, so they’re getting the local’s to do their job for them. They can’t trace guns in Mexico and once those cars cross the border there’s nothing they can do about it. If they use the data to harass gun owners, then they’re opening up a can of worms that will look more like a box of rattlesnakes. They can’t track, watch, or even arrest (without a SWAT Team) the 3 million known criminals and gang members in the US. How are they going to deal with 45-70 million gun owners (total is dependent of who’s numbers you believe)? Figure there’s only about 750,000 cops and about 1/3 are desk jockeys and management. I don’t think the remaining 500,000 want to go up against 45 million+ gun owners. Even if most cooperate (yea, like Americans are known for their love of authoritarian laws. Ask about Prohibition). That still leaves several million gun owners who won’t cooperate. You think the gun control people are going to be kicking ass and taking names to confiscate guns. Some will be in peaceful demonstrations (hiding behind walls of cops) protesting about guns, on talk shows whining about evil gun owners, and the rest will be hiding behind their doors hoping we forget what they’ve done.

  2. Well, here is how it goes, for the new generation-

    They spied on environmentalists.
    I was not an environmentalist, so I said nothing.

    Then they spied on labor activists.
    I was not a labor activist, so I said nothing.

    By the time they were spying on me, no one was left to speak out……

    It is called divide and conquer for a reason……

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