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    Feds Enlist Local PDs to Scan Gun Show Attendees’ License Plates

    Feds Enlist Local PDs to Scan Gun Show Attendees’ License Plates

    An idea that just will not go away . . .

    According to the Wall Street Journal, “Federal agents have persuaded police officers to scan license plates to gather information about gun-show customers, government emails show, raising questions about how officials monitor constitutionally protected activity.”

    The activity revealed in the emails suggests that the known incidents are limited to border control and occurred in California in 2010.

    The WSJ continues:

    Emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show agents with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency crafted a plan in 2010 to use license-plate readers—devices that record the plate numbers of all passing cars—at gun shows in Southern California, including one in Del Mar, not far from the Mexican border.

    Agents then compared that information to cars that crossed the border, hoping to find gun smugglers, according to the documents and interviews with law-enforcement officials with knowledge of the operation.

    The investigative tactic concerns privacy and guns-rights advocates, who call it an invasion of privacy. The law-enforcement officials say it is an important and legal tool for pursuing dangerous, hard-to-track illegal activity.

    There is no indication the gun-show surveillance led to any arrests or investigative leads, but the officials didn’t rule out that such surveillance may have happened elsewhere. The agency has no written policy on its use of license-plate readers and could engage in similar surveillance in the future, they said.

    This is not the only federal agency, however, that has considered scanning the license plates of gun show attendees.

    The ACLU reported at the time:

    The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives collaborated on plans to monitor gun show attendees using automatic license plate readers, according to a newly disclosed DEA email obtained by the ACLU through the Freedom of Information Act.

    The April 2009 email states that “DEA Phoenix Division Office is working closely with ATF on attacking the guns going to [redacted] and the gun shows, to include programs/operation with LPRs at the gun shows.” The government redacted the rest of the email, but when we received this document we concluded that these agencies used license plate readers to collect information about law-abiding citizens attending gun shows. 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.

    Responding to inquiries about the document, the DEA said that the monitoring of gun shows was merely a proposal and was never implemented.

    Additionally, the ATF was allegedly planning to work with the DEA to scan and record the license plates of gun show attendees.  This plan, however, was also reportedly scrapped.

    According to Fox News, “Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, said his group also 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.”

    Scanning gun show attendees’ license plates is a plan that federal agencies continue to revive and revise.


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    Geologist | October 4, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    It has long been known/rumored that California cops (state and/or local) would come to Las Vegas gun shows and take down info on cars with CA license plates, to make pretextual stops of those cars when they returned to CA, looking for weapons.

    Unlike CA, there is no requirement of background checks or waiting periods for handgun sales between private individuals in NV, so there may have been CA residents [illegally] buying firearms at the NV gun shows.

      redc1c4 in reply to Geologist. | October 5, 2016 at 2:45 am

      nope: too late to go into details, but, as i remember it, handgun sales between states, private or otherwise, are still required to go through the screening process, and to abide by whatever restrictions there are at the receiving state.

      IOW, i can’t go to Arizona, Nevada or Oregon, buy a handgun not on our “Safety list” and bring it back home to #Failifornia.

      and i’d still have to wait 10 days to pick it up were i bought it.

        tphillip in reply to redc1c4. | October 5, 2016 at 9:27 am

        I’m going to need some citations on that.

        Unless there is federal law governing the issue, California cannot force any other state to enforce their laws.

        For example I can go to PA and buy guns that violate the NY SAFE Act without any restrictions (Eg: Magazine size). Only once I cross the NY border with the item in question can NY bring down their legal hammer on me. PA has no obligation to do NY’s dirty work for them.

    The Friendly Grizzly | October 5, 2016 at 11:11 am

    Pretty soon the police will have no friends at all. To paraphrase Lyndon Johnson, “When you’ve lost the law abiding, you’ve lost the country.”

    Xenomethean | October 5, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Nothing says fascist quite like scanning a licence plate at a gun show for future Peace Keeper gun confiscation.

    Arminius | October 6, 2016 at 1:16 am

    Now that it’s 2016 and the California law requiring background checks for ammo purchases has gone into effect you can expect more of this. For years California required ammo purchasers to show ID and provide a thumb print. Now ammo purchasers will be required to undergo a criminal background check. Essentially this will end same day ammo purchases. California tried to ban internet ammo sales in the state, but when they realized that would violate the commerce clause they amended the law to require all ammo purchased online to be to a licensed gun dealer or state-approved ammunition vendor where the transaction must be completed face-to-face so the vendor must verify the purchaser’s identity and submit the information for the background check. The gun dealer/ammo vendor has to report large purchases of ammunition to local law enforcement.

    All in all, it’s a bureaucratic mess, which means it is working as intended. I’m not entirely sure if ammo buyers have to go through this every time they buy ammo, or if they can get some sort of permit good for a set period of time. I don’t care as I’ll never purchase another round of a ammo in California again. I may never go hunting again in California, as I see the state as a legal minefield when it comes to possessing a firearm of any type, but if I do I will bring all the ammo I’m going to need.

    Naturally, California gun owners know they can legally buy ammunition out of state, and all of my friends plan on doing exactly that. I wonder what pretext the bandits who run the state as the California Democratic Party are going to invent to try to confiscate out-of-state ammo along with fruits and vegetables at their wonderful highway checkpoints?

    gwsjr425 | October 6, 2016 at 7:47 am

    States that have the license plate on only the rear of the vehicle need only to back into the parking space to keep it from being scanned by the van.

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