DEA Contemplated Mass Surveillance of Gun Show Attendees

Law Shield wants to alert our members that documents obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union reveal that the Drug Enforcement Administration contemplated using License Plate Readers (LPRs) to track vehicle traffic from gun shows in 2009.

A highly redacted email from an unknown DEA official suggests the program was past infancy and stated, “DEA Phoenix Division Office is working closely with ATF on attacking the guns going to [redacted] and the guns shows to include programs/operation with LPRs at the gun shows.”

The ACLU correctly points out that “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.”

According to a January 27, 2015 Wall Street Journal article focusing specifically on the gun show surveillance proposal, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart told the paper, “The proposal in the email was only a suggestion. It was never authorized by DEA, and the idea under discussion in the email was never launched.”

Law Shield opposes such surveillance of law-abiding gun owners in peaceful assembly. We will continue to watch these events closely and keep our members posted.

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