How The NRA Built A Massive Secret Database Of Gun Owners

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    While the National Rifle Association publicly fights against a national gun registry, the organization has gone to incredible lengths to compile information on “tens of millions” of gun owners — without their consent.
    posted on August 20, 2013

    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. ...

    ... 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 won’t say how many names and what other personal information is in its database, but former NRA lobbyist Richard Feldman estimates they keep tabs on “tens of millions of people.” ...

    ... While the organization took great umbrage in December when a newspaper published the names and addresses of gun owners in two New York counties, the group for years has been gathering similar information via the same public records as a matter of course.

    In Virginia, for instance, a North Carolina-based firm called Preferred Communications filed an inquiry with the Virginia State Police in July 2009 asking “on behalf of the National Rifle Association” as to whether the names of concealed carry permit holders could be purchased. The email was obtained by BuzzFeed through a Freedom of Information Act request. ...

    ... Complementing this practice is the mining of data on the thousands who take gun safety classes from NRA-certified instructors. Arulanandam said there are 97,000 of them, a figure that impressed Quinn as a larger “army of organizers” than Obama had. ...

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/stevefriess/...-of-gun-owners

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  2. 28 Comments...

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    So, I guess the NRA has been tracking me since I took their CCW class. I knew they had my name because I used to get tons of trash mail from them. I don't anymore. I credited it to the fact I sent it back to them Perhaps it is because they have been tracking me and know my views on stupid gun owners and the havoc they create. One can only hope that if they have as much info on me as the NSA, and I do not doubt that nor do I doubt that the info is passed back and forth, that they also get the message that I really do not care. My privacy has been violated so many times by so many things I really don't think there is much more they can do with it.

    I have had my CC skimmed, my body scanned, my mind probed, my clothes patted down. What can the NRA do to me since I will not vote their way, will not support their views, nor will I give them money. They might better scratch my name from their roles.
    herring_RN likes this.
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    What if their data base is hacked?
    aknottedyarn likes this.
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    This is not any less scary than the government having a database of gun owners.
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    I find it slightly less scary than the government having a database but only marginally so. It would make sense for the NRA to try to find out who owns/likes guns so they can target them with flyers and attempt to gain more members. More members equals more money and political power. I can't imagine many gun owners being very concerned about that. I cannot imagine the NRA ever publishing their list unless they wanted to lose a significant portion of their membership.

    What is concerning is that the government may one day present the NRA with a top secret order to hand over their list. Of course the order would also stipulate that they cannot say anything about it to the public. The government could get the list and we would never know. We have seen the government recently hit secure email sites with such orders. Adding to the concern is that based on the way the names were collected, it's a very imperfect list. You don't have to own a gun to get on it.

    One girl in my CCW class did not own a gun, she had borrowed one from a friend. You also don't have to own a gun to take a gun safety course.

    If the government wants to figure out who likely has guns I'm sure the NSA can do a better job by mining decades of electronic transactions to see who has purchased guns, ammo, training, or range time.

    I'm not going to lose any sleep over this.
    Last edit by azhiker96 on Aug 23, '13 : Reason: spelling
    VivaLasViejas and Spidey's mom like this.
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    My grocery store has all the information on what I buy, walgreens knows all the meds I take, the state I live in sells my license information to anyone who will pay for it, how is this different than any other database that is kept?
  8. 1
    Quote from Ginger's Mom
    My grocery store has all the information on what I buy, walgreens knows all the meds I take, the state I live in sells my license information to anyone who will pay for it, how is this different than any other database that is kept?
    The difference I see is that gun owners do not wish to have their gun ownership on any data base. That has been one of the biggest reasons given for why guns should not be registered.

    I think registry is a good idea. If a gun is used illegally there is a trail back to the rightful owner. It could have a positive effect on people who are rather slipshod about their ownership. Getting charged for a crime done by the people who had access to a gun might encourage more responsible behaviors.
    Last edit by aknottedyarn on Aug 26, '13
    StNeotser likes this.
  9. 0
    Quote from aknottedyarn

    I think registry is a good idea. If a gun is used illegally there is a trail back to the rightful owner. It could have a positive effect on people who are rather slipshod about their ownership. Getting charged for a crime done by the people who had access to a gun might encourage more responsible behaviors.
    If I understand this correctly, you would propose that the last known registered owner of a gun should be charged with any crimes committed with that gun. Please correct me if that's wrong.

    Assuming I read that correctly, really? If I'm on a cruise and someone breaks into my house and steals my guns, I should be charged for crimes committed with those guns? It doesn't matter that they broke open my gun safe and cut off the trigger locks? Wow, that would be harsh treatment for me negligently leaving my guns inadequately secured.

    I've got a kinda radical idea. How about charging the person/people who actually committed the crime?
  10. 1
    What happens now if someone steals your car while you are on a cruise and runs over people?
    aknottedyarn likes this.
  11. 1
    Quote from herring_RN
    What happens now if someone steals your car while you are on a cruise and runs over people?
    If someone steals my car or steals my gun and commits a crime today, they are charged with the crime. I think that's how it should be.

    I thought aknottedyarn was suggesting something different for guns so I was trying to explore that. Perhaps I misread what was proposed or perhaps aknottedyarn has abandoned that idea since they've "liked" your post but not felt the need to respond to clarify their position.
    herring_RN likes this.


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