Senators Ask If NSA Collected Gun Data

Senators are questioning whether the National Security Agency collected bulk data on more than just Americans’ phone records, such as firearm and book purchases.

A bipartisan group of 26 senators, led by Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) asked Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to detail the scope and limits of the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities in a letter released Friday.

“We are concerned that by depending on secret interpretations of the PATRIOT Act that differed from an intuitive reading of the statute, this program essentially relied for years on a secret body of law,” the senators wrote in the letter.

The NSA’s surveillance program has come under intense scrutiny following a leak revealing the agency harvested the phone metadata of millions of American citizens.

The senators noted that the federal government’s authority under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act is broad and rife with potential for abuse. Among the senators’ concerns was whether the NSA’s bulk data harvesting program could be used to construct a gun registry or violate other privacy laws.

“It can be used to collect information on credit card purchases, pharmacy records, library records, firearm sales records, financial information, and a range of other sensitive subjects,” the senators wrote. “And the bulk collection authority could potentially be used to supersede bans on maintaining gun owner databases, or laws protecting the privacy of medical records, financial records, and records of book and movie purchases.”

The senators asked Clapper in the letter whether the NSA used PATRIOT Act authorities to conduct bulk collection of other types of records, and whether there are any instances of the agency violating a court order in the process of such collections.

Civil libertarians say such surveillance is a violation of privacy. However, the government has defended the program, saying it helped thwart several terrorist attacks and is minimally invasive.

Second Amendment groups and Republican members of Congress have long warned against the creation of a national gun registry. Fears of such a registry bogged down several attempts to forge a bipartisan gun-control bill in the Senate earlier this year.

“In this country, the government can’t just monitor your constitutionally protected activities—like gun ownership—just because it wants to,” said Brian Phillips, a spokesman for Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah), who signed onto the letter. “The justification that, ‘if you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t have to worry about it,’ turns us into a police state very quickly. That’s why Congress is right to seek broad oversight of the NSA’s data collection programs.”


Canadians Outraged After Flooding Prompts Involuntary Firearm Confiscation

Canadians in the High River area of Alberta – many already “irate” at not being able to return to their homes after massive flooding last week – were shocked to learn late Thursday that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have seized a “large quantity of firearms” from their evacuated houses.

RCMP Sergeant Patricia Neely said that “Firearms that were unsafely stored in plain sight were seized for safekeeping,” but Sgt. Brian Topham told the National Post that officers forced their way into many of the homes because of “urgent need.”

“We just want to make sure that all of those things are in a spot that we control, simply because of what they are,” Sgt. Topham said. “People have a significant amount of money invested in firearms … so we put them in a place that we control and that they’re safe.”

They will be returned to residents with proof of ownership after the evacuation order — which is now into its eighth day — is lifted, authorities say.

Read the rest of the article:

The Truth About Posers

In today’s issue of The Shooting Wire, Paul Markel is fed up with folks giving bad advice.

Give it a read, and then come back here to let me know if I fit in to the Blog Commando category. I try not to fall in to that role, but I want to know if I am being successful, or if I need to alter my ways.

Read the article:

Man Thought Gun Was Unloaded When He Shot Himself In Head

A man died early Thursday morning after he shot himself in the head while playing with with what he thought was an unloaded gun, Houston police said.

The shooting was reported at an auto repair business on Beechnut Street near Tanglewilde Street around 3 a.m., according to the Houston Police Department. The man was already dead when police arrived.

Witnesses told police the man had been drinking, and he pulled out a gun he claimed had no bullets. He then put it to his head and pulled the trigger once, and nothing happened. When he pulled the trigger a second time, however, it went off.

Police said the incident occurred in front of several his coworkers. No other injuries were reported.


Treat every gun as if it was loaded.
Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.
Keep your finger off the trigger until the gun is lined up on the target.

Any of those four rules the man’s life.