Is the NRA building its own gun registry or something?

posted at 4:41 pm on August 21, 2013 by Allahpundit

I’m not sure whether to pat John Ekdahl on the back for writing this rebuttal to BuzzFeed or to tsk-tsk him for bothering in the first place.

Did you know that political campaigns, influential lobbies, and business in various industries collect and maintain data on people they’re trying to influence? Wait, you did?

Well, then, we’re pretty much done here.

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

“We’ve been doing this since the old days,” [former NRA lobbyist Richard] Feldman said. “You could obtain from most states the listings of hunter licenses from the Department of Wildlife and Conservations. It was sort of amazing what we knew about people from that. There were early doe permit holders, black powder holders, so many different seasons. It was a lot of data.”

Yep — just like Team Obama did last year. And in my experience, reaction among grassroots conservatives to O’s big data operation has been mostly jealousy and awe, in contrast to most ambitious Hopenchange initiatives. This is not, in other words, a case of righties warning darkly that data-mining by private actors (including an opponent’s presidential campaign) is something to be discouraged and then opportunistically carving out an exception for the NRA. It’s more a case of righties wondering why all right-wing groups, especially Mitt “Managerial Genius” Romney’s campaign, aren’t as good at this as Obama and the NRA are. Where’s the hypocrisy?

The “news” here, I guess, is that there’s hypocrisy by the NRA insofar as (a) they’re culling information on gun owners from the sort of state gun registries they oppose and (b) they’re using that info to build their own quasi-registry. But who cares if they’re exploiting a policy they oppose to try to build consensus to overturn that policy? Ask a liberal who supports tax hikes why he doesn’t pay more taxes voluntarily and he’ll probably say that he’s using some of the money he saved to donate to Democratic pols who’ll help him achieve his broader policy goal. Same thing here: The NRA sometimes loses the political argument against local registries, but they can use a tool their opponents have given them to win long-term. As for building a quasi-registry, unless I missed something, the NRA’s never objected to, say, gun manufacturers keeping marketing data on their customers. The problem with a government gun registry, as Ekdahl says, is that it could lead conceivably to confiscation or imprisonment. Which, of course, also explains why people are freaking out about what the NSA knows about them compared to what, say, Google knows. The objection isn’t that data on gun owners is being collected, it’s by who and to what end.

Exit question: What’s the more quintessential August “news” story, Ted Cruz’s citizenship status or this?


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Do they know that there is vast difference between a membership list and a list of guns people have lost in a boating accident?

Galt2009 on August 21, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Well, at least the NRA isn’t doing what a liberal NY newspaper did and published online the names and addresses of legal gun owners. With an interactive map to boot!

Liam on August 21, 2013 at 4:46 PM

Exit question: What’s the more quintessential August “news” story, Ted Cruz’s citizenship status or this?

Neither. This.

Bmore on August 21, 2013 at 4:46 PM

Galt2009 on August 21, 2013 at 4:44 PM

Lots of boating accidents as of late. ; ) Hmmm……

Bmore on August 21, 2013 at 4:47 PM

I’ve never submitted a 4473 to them, though.

rogerb on August 21, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Lots of boating accidents as of late. ; ) Hmmm……

Bmore on August 21, 2013 at 4:47 PM

Boats are very tricky creatures. They often take on a mind of their own the same way guns fire themselves. Sad, how those boats cause so many accidents that result in the untimely passing of a good firearm.

Liam on August 21, 2013 at 4:51 PM

Good point rogerb.

Bmore on August 21, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Do they know that there is vast difference between a membership list and a list of guns people have lost in a boating accident?

Galt2009 on August 21, 2013 at 4:44 PM

I know about guns lost in boating accidents. It’s so prevalent here that you cannot even have a gun while in a boat, RV or campground anymore. For me it doesn’t matter anyway. All my guns and ammo where accidentally flushed down the toilet by my rotten grand kid. He claimed he just wanted to help me out and clean them. Little did I suspect he was going to clean them in the toilet. It just goes to show. Never trust a four year old to properly clean and load firearms.

Dr. Frank Enstine on August 21, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Well it made the headlines. Those big scary NRA ers….

sandee on August 21, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Liam on August 21, 2013 at 4:51 PM

I have several…………..boats that is. ; )

Bmore on August 21, 2013 at 4:53 PM

Big difference between NRA and NSA the later shares its data with Project Narwhal and got Obama elected.

meci on August 21, 2013 at 4:53 PM

How about the shooting in Oklahoma?

RDH on August 21, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Lots of boating accidents as of late. ; ) Hmmm……

Bmore on August 21, 2013 at 4:47 PM

I know….*sigh*…lost some mighty fine firearms that other day out on the river….

As for the NRA collecting the data vs the Government…the government can come after you and use force to take things from you, from money to your life.

The NRA can’t.

And that is the KEY difference. The NRA does not harbor the potential to be a tyranny.

ProfShadow on August 21, 2013 at 5:01 PM

I don’t worry about the NRA having information on me owning a weapon. NSA/ANY government agency? Yeeeah…

LtGenRob on August 21, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Exit ? – this

Schadenfreude on August 21, 2013 at 5:06 PM

When liberals can’t get us to support them, they trying sowing suspicion in hope we stop trusting those people or groups we support.

They never the the Christian right to vote against Reagan in ’84, and they’ll never succeed with this little cry of desperation against the NRA, either.

Liam on August 21, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Hope their security measures are better than the NSA’s. That being said we have much bigger fish to fry.

antipc on August 21, 2013 at 5:09 PM

How about the shooting in Oklahoma?

RDH on August 21, 2013 at 5:00 PM

HA has apparently blacked out that topic. Pun intended.

It was hours if not minutes from the time George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin before allegations of a racially-motivated hate crime made it into the media. It became the primary narrative and had Florida circumvent the rule of law to put Zimmerman on trial when it was clear that they could not get a grand jury indictment. The judge bent over backwards to help the prosecution. There was real fear that blacks would riot if Zimmerman was acquitted.

But in OK- silence despite the fact that the facebook bleatings of these black thugs make it clear that they hated whites. They killed Lane for sport. But at HA the topic is verboten.

Happy Nomad on August 21, 2013 at 5:11 PM

But in fact, the sort of vast, secret database the NRA often warns of already exists…

And I’ll care about it the minute the NRA starts using that list to conduct no-knock SWAT raids to confiscate guns.

Fabozz on August 21, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Happy Nomad on August 21, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Well, we don’t want to act stupidly and jump to conclusions, do we? /

Liam on August 21, 2013 at 5:13 PM

Bob Beckel on The Five making an ass of himself over gun grabbing.

Happy Nomad on August 21, 2013 at 5:13 PM

I’ll be out on the boat if anyone needs me. ; )

Bmore on August 21, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Well, we don’t want to act stupidly and jump to conclusions, do we? /

Liam on August 21, 2013 at 5:13 PM

So I guess we are left with robust “frowning upon?”

The story has become a thing. The White House was asked about it this afternoon (they didn’t have a clue that three mini-Obamas killed out of boredom). The two narratives emerging concern gun control and gang activity.

But the real story here is the story behind the story. The way the media is covering this murder compared to Zimmerman killing in self-defense.

Happy Nomad on August 21, 2013 at 5:17 PM

As for the NRA collecting the data vs the Government…the government can come after you and use force to take things from you, from money to your life.

The NRA can’t.

And that is the KEY difference. The NRA does not harbor the potential to be a tyranny.

ProfShadow on August 21, 2013 at 5:01 PM

No. The key difference is that the NRA defends our civil rights. The government………….?

Happy Nomad on August 21, 2013 at 5:20 PM

But the real story here is the story behind the story. The way the media is covering this murder compared to Zimmerman killing in self-defense.

Happy Nomad on August 21, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Events like this highlight the media very well, and it seems this crime is getting more notice than Zimmerman legally defending himself yet being hauled into court over it. Much of the truth of this thrill killing is out there already, from many sources.

The media can’t hide this one and I doubt they can hide from it. All they can do is trying to run back to their usual anti-Second narrative, but that’s a dead horse. They lost Assault Weapons Ban 2, they lost with Zimmerman, and they’ll lose with this one. If anything, it’s going to show out what the MSM long ignore: what really goes on in certain minority neighborhoods all over the country.

I like to think the irony of it all is too good and too big for the average American to ignore.

Liam on August 21, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Slightly O/T … but if you are ever in the vicinity of the NRA Headquarters (Fairfax, VA) you MUST take time (4 hours minimum) and visit the NRA National Firearms Museum.
112500 Waples Mill Rd.

Even if you’re not that into firearms … you will be amazed and educated. Guaranteed.
Add it to your bucket list.

Missilengr on August 21, 2013 at 5:31 PM

Hey NRA just don’t email your list to anybody . The NSA is watching.

meci on August 21, 2013 at 5:32 PM

The media can’t hide this one and I doubt they can hide from it. All they can do is trying to run back to their usual anti-Second narrative, but that’s a dead horse. They lost Assault Weapons Ban 2, they lost with Zimmerman, and they’ll lose with this one. If anything, it’s going to show out what the MSM long ignore: what really goes on in certain minority neighborhoods all over the country.

Liam on August 21, 2013 at 5:28 PM

All true statements. The 17-year-old is about to become a baby daddy which sums up the “culture” of these thugs as much as anything. But of course, we can’t talk about why black males are in the downward spiral they are without being called racist or having boring lectures about “inequities” foisted on us by racists.

But this blind eye to reality is not new. When I was living in Western Michigan, there was a full-out gang war going on between Hispanic and black gangs. The newspaper reported it as if there were a series of unrelated “shootings.” Every weekend. The paper’s editor was an acquaintance so I (politely) took him to task. He told me it wasn’t his reporters it was the police who didn’t want to admit the obvious and pretended that there was no connection between any of these incidents.

I suspect that as the story in OK unfolds we will find much of the same situation. That this murder was part of a initiation ritual where you had to kill a white to get into the gang.

Happy Nomad on August 21, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Slightly O/T … but if you are ever in the vicinity of the NRA Headquarters (Fairfax, VA) you MUST take time (4 hours minimum) and visit the NRA National Firearms Museum.

Missilengr on August 21, 2013 at 5:31 PM

And if your trip takes you further south, stop by the Virginia Military Institute museum. They got an awesome collection of guns the NRA wanted.

Happy Nomad on August 21, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Happy Nomad on August 21, 2013 at 5:11 PM

That one hit a little close to home. My son moved there in 2002 to get away from these “random” acts of violence happening in the area he lived in S. Cal. Worse is that when I visit for Holidays I generally to my daily runs. It could have been me.

chemman on August 21, 2013 at 5:52 PM

chemman on August 21, 2013 at 5:52 PM

What pisses me off is that we can’t have an honest discussion about these situations.

Happy Nomad on August 21, 2013 at 5:58 PM

As for the NRA collecting the data vs the Government…the government can come after you and use force to take things from you, from money to your life.

The NRA can’t.

And that is the KEY difference. The NRA does not harbor the potential to be a tyranny.

ProfShadow on August 21, 2013 at 5:01 PM

This.

davidk on August 21, 2013 at 6:35 PM

He forgot to list the gun insurance that is part of the Members Benefits which requires a description and serial # of the covered guns.
Any moment now, Wayne “Jack-Booted Thug” LaPierre will be sending out the NRA Storm-troopers to confiscate all those guns for “safe keeping”.

Another Drew on August 21, 2013 at 6:38 PM

But at HA the topic is verboten.

Happy Nomad on August 21, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Verboten? But I still see your comment on it.

(they didn’t have a clue that three mini-Obamas killed out of boredom).

Happy Nomad on August 21, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Please explain “mini-Obamas”, since one of the three was white.

GWB on August 21, 2013 at 7:05 PM

And I’ll care about it the minute the NRA starts using that list to conduct no-knock SWAT raids to confiscate guns.

Fabozz on August 21, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Hey NRA just don’t email your list to anybody . The NSA is watching.

meci on August 21, 2013 at 5:32 PM

Don’t give the government any ideas.
Anyone know of a law that would let some agency confiscate a copy?
Seems to me there are lots of incidents of computer-grabbing where the alleged “criminal” never gets indicted or convicted, but the info and machines make it into gubmint hands regardless.

AesopFan on August 21, 2013 at 7:36 PM

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.

So the NRA’s legally obtained and legally retained database compares somehow to the NSA’s allegedly illegally obtained and allegedly illegally retained database. Got it.

Knott Buyinit on August 21, 2013 at 8:48 PM

Rest assured the FedGov and DOJ know everyone of the members of EVERY SINGLE Conservative group.

The only thing keeping this government from hauling us all off to internment is an executive order.

That’s why this Republic is nothing more than a veneer of freedom.

PappyD61 on August 21, 2013 at 9:11 PM

I hope the NRA keeps said list on a non-interweb connected computer.

/just sayin…

roy_batty on August 21, 2013 at 10:23 PM

They’re too busy selling insurance.

Kenosha Kid on August 21, 2013 at 11:21 PM

I don’t think the comparison and allegation of hypocrisy works here. The NRA has no power or intention to ban or confiscate anything. The gov’t on the other has every 4 – 8 years has the power and intent to do both, they just haven’t stacked SCOTUS with enough people incapable of comprehending English. The only danger here I see is that the gov’t takes the NRA’s lists from them (but likely already have via the NSA).

John_G on August 21, 2013 at 11:35 PM

Nothing to see here folks, move along now.

Really, how gullible are we?

Dr. ZhivBlago on August 22, 2013 at 5:49 AM

Why does Hot Air only mention the NRA? I’m guessing these guys don’t get out to the range much or at least they are not as enthusiastic as some of us. There are other gun rights groups, not just the NRA. Gun Owners of America and the National Association for Gun Rights just a couple.

Hat Trick on August 22, 2013 at 8:35 AM