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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Who has America’s largest gun registry? The NRA

Pile of handguns
BuzzFeed: 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.
The first thing that jumps out at you is, of course, the hypocrisy. But the second is just how easy it is to create this kind of database without the consent or participation of gun owners. The idea that background checks are the foot in the door of a gun registry that could be used by government to track down gun owners and confiscate their weapons is obvious BS — and the NRA knows it. After all, government has access to all the info the NRA has. In fact, the NRA got a sizable chunk of that information from the government, presumably through open-records requests.

If the government really wanted to put together a gun registry, they could just do what the NRA did — and they could probably do it better. Part of the problem with the whole “background checks are a gun registry” conspiracy theory is that it could only be true if firearms transactions are done in secret. But they aren’t. They’re done in public, with a paper trail long enough to catch the attention of marketers like the NRA.

No, the NRA’s problem with background checks is that it means people would be denied gun and ammo purchases. The NRA represents an industry as soulless and cruel as Big Tobacco. They don’t give a damn who they sell guns to, they just want to sell guns. If some guy uses the gun he bought to rob a liquor store, well maybe that means they can sell a gun to the liquor store owner, too. For an industry that markets protection, armed criminals are the best marketing tools in the world.

The idea that the National Rifle Association gives anything remotely resembling a fuck about gun owners is a side-splitting, knee-slapping, cruel joke. And the people who fall for their BS are just colossal patsies and paranoid loons.

And the NRA has a big database of all of them, so they can keep feeding them the same stupid BS.

[photo by ZORIN DENU]

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