OMIGOD James Clapper Has Our Gun Purchase Records

It’s a testament to Ron Wyden’s good faith that this letter — asking James Clapper for more information about the government’s secret use of the Section 215 provision of the PATRIOT Act — didn’t try to inflame the NRA.

It’s not until the third paragraph in until Wyden (and the 25 other Senators who signed on) say,

It can be used to collect information on credit card purchases, pharmacy records, library records, firearm sales records, financial information, and a range of other sensitive subjects. And the bulk collection authority could potentially be used to supersede bans on maintaining gun owner databases, or laws protecting the privacy of medical records, financial records, and records of book and movie purchases. [my emphasis]

And while Wyden is right that the letter is bipartisan, I really wonder how it is that only four Republicans — Mike Lee, Dean Heller, Mark Kirk, and Lisa Murkowski — signed a letter raising these issues. Seriously. Not even Rand Paul?

I’ll come back to the loaded questions Wyden asks (I’m frankly still working on some loaded questions he asked 6 months ago — it has turned into a nearly fulltime beat).

But in the meantime, why isn’t the NRA screaming yet?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

21 replies
  1. Lake Effect Snow says:

    and to this Michigander it was quite disappointing to see neither Michigan Democratic Senator on the list of signees – neither Carl “Combover” Levin nor Debbie Stabanow signed. grrrrrrrrrrr

  2. scribe says:

    The short answer to your concluding question, EW, is “Cognitive dissonance”.

    The longer answer would take all weekend to write but still come back to the same thing.

  3. Peterr says:

    Here in Missouri, the state GOP has been going berserk because the DMV was copying concealed carry permits as part of the verification process when people get a new driver’s license. Part of the outrage is purely an attempt to make Gov Jay Nixon look bad, but part is tied in with the whole “the Feds will come for your guns if they just knew where to look for them” anti-database mentality.

    My advice: watch Roy Blunt.

    He is careful to pay attention to the GOP faithful in Missouri, and if he signs on to Wyden’s letter, you can bet the NRA won’t be far behind.

  4. C says:

    Why isn’t the NRA up in arms?

    Sadly the NRA is not an equal opportunity player when it comes to this. Much like Dems who support drones when Obama does em the NRA has never shown that it excercises a principled opposition to things no matter who is doing them or whom they are being done to.

    As a case in point the NRA has historically be supportive of militias, or at least been a fellow traveller with them, and has decried any federal attempts to regulate their use of guns or to act in a heavy handed manner. The apex of this was probably the infamous “Jack-Booted Thugs” letter.

    Yet at the same time the NRA has been utterly silent on abuses by police against minority groups or activities like Stop and Frisk which specifically target posession of weapons (one of the excuses for the process).

  5. Morris Minor says:

    @scribe: What is the financial equivalent of cognitive dissonance. You understand both sides quite well but are stuck on how to do your job. At what point does an organization like the NRA flip out and go postal? (Like Hasan Nidal.)

  6. BeccaM says:

    I’ve been asking this same question for weeks now.

    What this all means, of course, is the NSA already has a defacto secret national gun registry.

  7. Everythings Jake says:

    Whether or not the NSA has the records, doesn’t hurt gun sales. In fact, that the NSA is sweeping up the data, probably helps e’m.

  8. phred says:

    I was very surprised that Rand Paul didn’t sign on.

    As for the NRA and their supporters, I would guess that the works of Ron Wyden aren’t at the top of their reading list. However, once the paid trolls on blogs such as this get a gander at the details tucked into that letter, I would guess we might hear more from the 2nd amendment camp…

  9. Kurt Sperry says:

    As far as the question re the NRA, as long as one sees the NRA not as it tries to be seen–a member financed organization advocating for the rights of gun owners–and what it really is–a corporate financed organization advocating for the financial interests of arms manufacturers–the NRA (non)response seems perfectly sensible. The NRA’s mission isn’t to protect the Second Amendment or any other civil freedoms but the profits of a corporate interest tied into both the government and other corporate interests.

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