According to information released by Gun Owners of America, the FBI and ATF are using background checks for new gun purchases to track Americans without any court proceedings, something that the feds said would never happen.
The Second Amendment advocacy group discovered the information in a Freedom of Information Act request covering use of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in a system the FBI dubs the “NICS Monitoring Services.”
It appears that the ATF requests that the FBI monitor specific gun buyers after which the Bureau starts surveilling the people ATF wants targeted.
The investigations also seem to be open-ended. Some of the documents show that gun customers were surveilled for a year, after which the FBI asked the ATF if they want the surveillance to go on.
Per Just the News:
Gun Owners of America told the outlet that the agency was using this method to effectively surveil Americans without going through the warrant process.
“If they had probable cause, they could seek a warrant from a judge, but they aren’t doing that. They are just deciding they have some reason to believe a certain person’s exercise of Second Amendment rights needs to be monitored,” said GOA attorney Rob Olson. “And it’s their own system so they make up their own standards. There doesn’t appear to be any oversight here.”
“They are basically tracking—without a warrant—every gun purchase by these people,” Olson also said. “There’s no legal process here. At best, this is highly questionable, if not outright unlawful.”
This is extra-judicial surveillance, for certain.
But it also goes against the very purpose for the NICS. This background check system is supposed to merely be a safety check. It was never supposed to be any sort of “registry” of gun owners. Indeed, the information is not supposed to even be stored anywhere for long to tempt the feds to use the info in such a way.
But apparently, they lied.
What a surprise, huh?Commentary