The ACLU talks some sense about gun control, civil liberties, and privacy, as reported by Daily Caller:
As Senate Democrats struggle to build support for new gun control legislation, the American Civil Liberties Union now says it's among those who have "serious concerns" about the bill….
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller, a top lobbyist for the ACLU announced that the group thinks Reid's current gun bill could threaten both privacy rights and civil liberties.
The inclusion of universal background checks — the poll-tested lynchpin of most Democratic proposals — "raises two significant concerns," the ACLU's Chris Calabrese told TheDC Wednesday.
While not against background checks in all cases, Calabrese says:
"However, we also believe those checks have to be conducted in a way that protects privacy and civil liberties. So, in that regard, we think the current legislation, the current proposal on universal background checks raises two significant concerns," he went on.
"The first is that it treats the records for private purchases very differently than purchases made through licensed sellers. Under existing law, most information regarding an approved purchase is destroyed within 24 hours when a licensed seller does a [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] check now," Calabrese said, "and almost all of it is destroyed within 90 days."
Calabrese wouldn't characterize the current legislation's record-keeping provision as a "national gun registry" — which the White House has denied pursuing — but he did say that such a registry could be "a second step."
He notes that government databases sometimes stretch in use beyond their original intent.
Calabrese says that [Nevada Democratic Senate leader Harry] Reid's legislation fails to include…"privacy best practices."
"Contrast this with what the existing [Reid] legislation says, which is simply that a record has to be kept of a private transfer," Calabrese highlighted, "and it doesn't have any of the protections that we have in current law for existing licensees."
"We think that that kind of record-keeping requirement could result in keeping long-term detailed records of purchases and creation of a new government database."
"And they come to use databases for all sorts of different purposes," Calabrese said. "For example, the National Counterterrorism Center recently gave itself the authority to collect all kinds of existing federal databases and performed terrorism related searches regarding those databases. They essentially exempted themselves from a lot of existing Privacy Act protections."….
Reid's legislation is hauntingly vague about who would physically keep information about American gun purchases, but it's crystal clear that records will be kept.
While I'd rather the ACLU consistently take on gun laws head-on as restrictions on an explicit constitutional civil liberty, it's nice to see they care.