Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

N.R.A.'s Secret Data Mining

Upset over the government snooping into your emails, cell phone calls and tweets?  Who would blame you.

But the government isn't the only one keeping information on you without your permission:


WASHINGTON — The National Rifle Association has rallied gun owners — and raised tens of millions of dollars — campaigning 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 country’s largest privately held database of current, former, and prospective gun owners is one of the powerful lobby’s secret weapons, expanding its influence well beyond its estimated 3 million members and bolstering its political supremacy. 

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, 

BuzzFeed has learned. 

The result: a big data powerhouse that deploys the same high-tech tactics all year round that the vaunted Obama campaign used to win two presidential elections.

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam declined to discuss the group’s name-gathering methods or what it does with its vast pool of data about millions of non-member gun owners. Asked what becomes of the class rosters for safety classes when instructors turn them in, he replied, “That’s not any of your business.”

The NRA Wants to Keep Gun Records Secret From Everyone Except the NRA

"...while the NRA has lately become one of the harshest critics of fourth estate access gun permit data—it has said "personal information regarding [permit] holders serves no public interest and only exposes law-abiding citizens to potential criminal acts" and places them at "risk to criminals who may target their home to steal firearms"—the group holds itself to a very different standard. 

When Tennessee first tried to make gun records private in 2009, the effort died "amid fears that political groups and gun advocates would no longer be able to access addresses of handgun carry permit holders to add to their mailing list soliciting contributions," according to the Associated Press. 

Indeed, in a survey of public records requests filed in 7 of the states that make (or formerly made) gun records public (we're still waiting on answers from 9 more), Gawker found multiple examples of the NRA and other conservative, "pro-gun" partisans seeking the lists for their own political and fundraising gain. 

In 2009, for example, a North Carolina firm called Preferred Communications emailed the Virginia State Police to find out how much it could pay to buy a list of the state's gun permit holders. It was requesting the information on behalf of the NRA."

It's not just "Big Brother" watching you.   The N.R.A. knows what you've bought and when you bought it.  And they don't want you to know why they've gathered all this information on you WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION.

Hate the government snooping and taking your personal information without your knowledge?

Do you own guns?

What do you think about this?


Rational Nation USA said...

This is interesting, perhaps a bit (or a lot) less troubling than the government data mining U.S. citizen.

"It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question AUTHORITY." - Benjamin Franklin -

"A little REBELLION now and then is a good thing." - Thomas Jefferson -

Shaw Kenawe said...

I don't understand why this would be "a bit (or a lot)" less troubling than the government data mining.

What's the difference?

Both times information about individuals' is gathered from state and county offices and given to a private organization, the N.R.A., for its own use, which it refuses to discuss.

Why is that not as disturbing?

Rational Nation USA said...

Why is it as disturbing? Is the NRA a government that has control over our lives and bussinesses? Is the NRA a para military organization that can use force to coerce us to do things against our own rational self interest?

Or could it simply be data used for marketing their idea's and positions?

Who knows? Who cares? There are greater threats to worry about. I refer you back to the above two quotes.

I think was Ben Franklin who once something about a society who gives up liberty for security will lose both and deserve neither. A paraphrasing of the great Franklin's actual words.

If we're lucky we will survive the onslaught of statism and its worship of big government as it attempts to replace religion with the theology of BIG INTRUSIVE GOVERNMENT is ypur friend and benefactor.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"Is the NRA a government that has control over our lives and bussinesses?"

Are you not aware that the NRA is THE MOST POWERFUL lobby in this country? And it has had the power to influence our laws governing firearms? Surely you know this. And surely you understand that it was the NRA that helped defeat the simple law that would make background checks mandatory--a law that a majority of American supported but that the powerful lobbiest for the N.R.A. help defeat.

That is power!

"Is the NRA a para military organization that can use force to coerce us to do things against our own rational self interest?"

Um, see above. Also see how our politicians quake before the power of the NRA and soil their undies if the NRA doesn't like what legislation they propose.

See how presidential candidate George W. Bush did not keep his promise on extending the ban on assault weapons:

Bush said if Congress would vote to extend the ban on assault weapons, that he’d sign the legislation.

That's mighty powerful: An organization that made a president break his promise.

Rational Nation USA said...

I am aware of more than you might think.

Want to discuss lobbyists? Fine. My position is simple. GET RID of ALL PAID LOBBYIST. Clean Washington of SPECIAL INTEREST money and your single issue is solved.

Doing that does nothing to address the much larger threat of advancing statism and its resulting loss of liberties. But, as the good statist collectivist might say, What?! It can't happen here, this is America.

Now, back to the NSA.

I find it interesting the not so subtle shift of focus off the NSA, a great threat to our freedoms, to the NRA.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Who's shifting anything away from the NSA? I've mentioned government intrusion in our lives AND the NRA doing the same thing.

Both are threats.

Jerry Critter said...

If the NRA has a database then so does the government.

Rational Nation USA said...

Get that. We, I think, differ on the degree of the threat and precisely WHICH is the greater. Statist all intrusive government or the NRA.

Anonymous said...

"Is the NRA a para military organization"
It is the only organization with the capability and given their aggressive posture I wouldn't put it past them. They feel America is being destroyed because of gun control. If America is being destroyed, they feel it's their patriotic duty to save America. How far will they go to fulfill their version of America? They are a dangerous organization.

""A little REBELLION now and then is a good thing." - Thomas Jefferson"
You just stated their reason and excuse to start an armed rebellion.

We made the government big by demanding it do for us. Government by the governed for the good of the governed.

Rational Nation USA said...

That bit of data was I believe established some time back. I doubt there is much disagreement.

Issue is government intrusion and infringement of my right to privacy with no justifiable cause to do so.

Statists and those who worship at the alter of BIG INTRUSIVE government I guess fail to distinquish the subtle difference.

FreeThinke said...

We must lay the blame at the feet -- not of the government OR the NRA -- but of TECHNOLOGY, itself.

It's a case of "Everybody's doing it, doing it, doing it." Unfortunately "it" is no longer "The Turkey Trot" -- a harmless, once popular set of ballroom dance steps to which the old song refers.

Today, "it" is the practice of obsessive-compulsive-incessant MONITORING too often referred to as "surveillance."

[NOTE: In the interests of preserving euphony and linguistic integrity I may be MONITORED, SCRUTINIZED, ANALYZED, and OBSERVED -- even "STALKED" or "HOUNDED" -- but I categorically refuse to be "SURVEILLED" a disgustingly inelegant back-formation latched onto by lazy-minded ignoramuses.]

Were you not aware that every single time you go through the checkout line at a supermarket, hardware store, lumber supply depot, home improvement company, pet supply store, and the like your personal data, as revealed by your credit/debit card, is RECORDED along with the list of EACH and EVERY ITEM you purchased?

This information is then STORED in a CENTRAL DATA BANK and USED to ANALYZE the buying habits and predilections of each customer or client, etc. The company involved then purchases to stock the shelves based on the information they get from this Data Mine.

Like it or not -- and I don't -- we live in what-could-only-be-properly-described-as The SUPERVISED SOCIETY.

In his monumental dystopian novel Nineteen-Eighty-Four, George Orwell, the very mention of whose name has gotten to be a cliché in these discussions, called it OCEANA.

Any sensible person with even the faintest inkling of what Orwell implies would have no choice but to call it HELL.

Anonymous said...

Big government (as you call it) was not forced on the people. The people agreed and wanted the government to do such things as SS, Medicare, welfare programs, defense programs, etc..And the people have voted for and supported those programs for more than 80 years. I understand the ideological disagreement with that kind of "big" government, but it was the people who supported it, and still do. Republicans have never had the the peoples support to cancel such government. Republicans have simply "starved the beast" so government no longer has the ability to pay for such government. We gave government the ability to have such information about us in the "Patriot Act."

Rational Nation USA said...

You will utimately live in the society you, and yes many millions of others have helped create, wether by design or unwittingly matters not. The loss of liberty is the same and once lost it is gone forever.

At best I have maybe 25 - 30 years left. Thankfully.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"Issue is government intrusion and infringement of my right to privacy with no justifiable cause to do so."

Actually, RN, in this particular blog post, that is not the issue. The issue is the NRA data mining, collecting information on gun owners, and not informing them.

You keep trying to make it a NSA post.

"Statists and those who worship at the alter of BIG INTRUSIVE government I guess fail to distinquish the subtle difference."

Obviously, you missed the part where I said both are threats.'

Rational Nation USA said...

Well stated FT. Who knew (how could anyone).that technology, something I love and embrace, would be used so nefariosly by the government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The NSA is but an example of what is yet to come.

Rational Nation USA said...

Dude, this is not a repub vs dem issue. By the way I am not a repub.

Why don't you come out of "hiding."

Anonymous said...

" wether by design or unwittingly matters not."

It makes all the difference. A free people making free choices.

Dave Miller said...

Shaw, I do find it interesting that no one has bothered to comment on what I see is a ventral part of the story...

The gun lobby has for years said one problem with gun registration is that the government might, even though it was specifically prohibited in the legislation proposed earlier this year, maintain a database of gun owners.

Well it seems as if the NRA has done just that...

Anonymous said...

By the way, I did not create this , I was born into it. I disagree with a lot of it, but I was not going to be exempt from paying taxes to support the agreement Americans made with the government 40 years before I was born. It was law well before I came along, so unless I wanted to go to jail for not following the law.......
Reality is, if my opinion was in minority, I have to live with it. I hear about these people who refuse to pay taxes based on some interpretation of the Constitution, they are in jail.

skudrunner said...

The Mormons have the largest private individual data base but, like the NRA,and unlike the government they are not a threat to our independence.
The NRA got their information from members and gun owners not from the IRS and data mining.

I know you keep saying the NRA is the largest lobbying group but I think the AFL-CIO is larger.

Rational Nation USA said...

Shaw, what you say is true. However you also included the following in your post...

"Upset over the government snooping into your emails, cell phone calls and tweets? Who would blame you."

Soooo, being the devils advocate, as well as the consummate REBEL, I took the bait.

I stand by ALL of my comments within the context of the comparison YOU made.

Before responding I suggest you reread ALL of what I said.

Jerry Critter said...

Where did Shaw say "the NRA is the largest lobbying group"? Quit making stuff up.

The largest lobbying group is the US Chamber of Commerce by far with over $136 million donated in 2012. The next closest group donated $42 million.

Shaw Kenawe said...

I said the NRA is the most POWERFUL lobby group. And when we see a bill that over 80% of the American people support defeated, THAT'S power. The NRA's lobbyists defeated it.

Leslie Parsley said...

What Dave Miller and Jerry Critter said.

BB-Idaho said...

I suppose we may see the list when it is pried from the NRA's cold dead hands...