When I saw this story, I thought, “a private data base of gun owners that could be used for any purpose.”
Unfortunately, even the likes of MSNBC’s Chris Hayes twisted himself into a pretzel justifying the private ownership of these names, names we were told was a danger to all gun owners everywhere. It didn’t matter who had the names, the existence of the list itself poses a problem. Hackers from China was given as one example by NRA VP Wayne LaPierre.
What will be interesting is how the typical paranoid gun owner will excuse the NRA’s use of government politicians to get the names.
Lawrence O'Donnell talked with Buzzfeeds Steve Friess, who did the research:
The National Rifle Association has rallied gun owners … against the threat of a national database of firearms or their owners. But in fact, the sort of vast, secret database the NRA often warns of already exists, despite having been assembled largely without the knowledge or consent of gun owners. It is housed in the Virginia offices of the NRA itself.
The NRA used local and state governments, politicians, to gather the names for them. It’s kind of like a private government…with a gun owner list.
That database has been built through years of acquiring gun permit registration lists from state and county offices, gathering names of new owners from the thousands of gun safety classes taught by NRA-certified instructors and by buying lists of attendees of gun shows, subscribers to gun magazines, and more ... Asked what becomes of the class rosters for safety classes when instructors turn them in, (a NRA spokesperson) replied, “That’s not any of your business” … former NRA lobbyist estimates they keep tabs on “tens of millions of people.”
While the organization took great umbrage in December when a newspaper published the names and addresses of gun owners … the group for years has been gathering similar information via the same public records. In December 2011, NRA lobbyist Christopher Rager wrote to Iowa Department of Public Safety … “If the NRA wanted to collect data from DPS’ permit holder files, is there a specific process or any rules for us to acquire the records? Can we pay to have the files copied or sent to us?” Similarly, officials in Arkansas and Oregon also told BuzzFeed they had requests for such lists, and Gawker reported in February of NRA-related registry requests in Louisiana and Tennessee. “You could obtain from most states the listings of hunter licenses from the Department of Wildlife and Conservations.” The mining of data on the thousands who take gun safety classes from NRA-certified instructors.
The NRA used the specter of a national gun registry to great effect ... Even though the bill explicitly prohibited the federal government from creating such a database, it was a talking point that senators who opposed the measure repeatedly cited.
Yet there does not seem to be the same concern among gun owners about the NRA’s own efforts to amass the same information ... they probably won’t care because the NRA is not part of the government.”