The National Rifle Association joined the American Civil Liberties Union’s lawsuit to end the government’s massive phone record collection program, arguing that the National Security Agency’s database of phone records amounts to a “national gun registry,” reports The Hill. “It would be absurd to think that the Congress would adopt and maintain a web of statutes intended to protect against the creation of a national gun registry, while simultaneously authorizing the FBI and the NSA to gather records that could effectively create just such a registry,” the NRA said yesterday.
After leaks by Edward Snowden, the NSA acknowledged that it collects records on virtually all U.S. phone calls. The data include phone numbers, call times and call durations, but not the contents of the conversations. The NSA says it only “queries” the database a limited number of times for specific national security reasons. The NRA claims that the NSA’s database would allow the government to identify and track gun owners based on whether they’ve called gun stores, shooting ranges or the NRA. The government could demand the periodic submission of all firearms dealers' transaction records, then centralize them in a database indexed by the buyers' names for later searching, the group says. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, along with a host of news organizations including Bloomberg, Fox, National Public Radio and The New Yorker, also backed the ACLU lawsuit yesterday, saying that the phone data collection inhibits the ability of journalists to contact sources and gather news.