Tags: Gun Control | Gun Rights | surveillance | national rifle association | cars | license plates | guns

WSJ: US Wanted to Spy on Cars Parked at Gun Shows

Wednesday, 28 January 2015 07:50 AM

The National Rifle Association is investigating reports that a leading federal agent proposed using license-plate readers to scan vehicles at gun shows as part of a gun-trafficking crackdown.

The plan was included in an internal Justice Department email that was among a series of Drug Enforcement Administration documents revealing that the government is stockpiling a vast national database of license plates, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Justice Department, which is in charge of the DEA, said that the planned spying program at gun shows was put forward in 2009, but it was turned down by management and never went any further.

"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,"’ said DEA administrator Michele Leonhart.

But the NRA, the leading gun rights group, is conducting a full inquiry into the proposed targeting of gun owners by capturing images of their license plates at gun shows.

The group’s spokesman, Andrew Arulanandam, told the Journal that the NRA is "looking into this to see if gun owners were improperly targeted, and has no further comment until we have all the facts."

The heavily redacted email said, "DEA Phoenix Division office is working closely with [the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives] on attacking the guns going to [redacted] and the guns shows, to include programs/operation with [license-plate readers] at the gun shows."

The secret surveillance suggestion was written around the time the bureau was conducting the disastrous gun-trafficking investigation in Phoenix called Fast and Furious, according to the newspaper.

In an attempt to catch major gun traffickers, undercover agents sold 2,000 weapons, mainly AK-47 rifles, to suspected smugglers.

After some of those firearms turned up at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S., and hundreds of others vanished, Republicans demanded a full accounting from Attorney General Eric Holder, who was later held in contempt by the House for not providing documents relating to the fiasco.

The Journal revealed on Monday that the government is gathering a huge national database of license plates using video cameras on major highways for secret surveillance of motorists.

The goal of the license-plate tracking system, which is run by the DEA, is to combat drug trafficking by nabbing cars that might be transporting illegal substances.

But the database has been greatly expanded to monitor vehicles for other possible crimes, from kidnappings to killings and rape.

And many state and local law enforcement agencies have the ability to track vehicles in real time for a variety of investigations, and they use the information gathered to feed the federal database, according to the newspaper.

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The National Rifle Association is investigating reports that a leading federal agent proposed using license-plate readers to scan vehicles at gun shows as part of a gun-trafficking crackdown.
surveillance, national rifle association, cars, license plates, guns, database
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2015-50-28
Wednesday, 28 January 2015 07:50 AM
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