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NRA backs ACLU suit over gun registry fears

| Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, 8:15 p.m.

Gun rights activists tell The Hill they want to curb the power of the National Security Agency.

The National Rifle Association has joined an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the surveillance agency, according to the congressional newspaper.

“There are issues that, maybe at first blush, wouldn't seem like a gun issue, but once you start looking closely at the issues, they really do affect our gun rights,” said Erich Pratt, the director of communications for Gun Owners of America.

Second Amendment advocates are worried that the NSA, under a section of the Patriot Act, could obtain information that would be used to establish a federal gun database. They fear the government could be spying on, or eventually targeting, gun owners.

“Under the government's reading of Section 215, the government could simply demand the periodic submission of all firearms dealers' transaction records, then centralize them in a database indexed by the buyers' names for later searching,” the NRA wrote in an amicus brief supporting the ACLU lawsuit against James Clapper, the director of national intelligence.

It was the ACLU's head lobbyist in Washington that contacted the NRA, showing the gun-rights group FBI training manuals on how to collect firearm records.

“I reached out to (the NRA) because I didn't think they were aware of it, and they weren't,” said Laura Murphy.

Gun Owners of America has endorsed bipartisan legislation proposed by House and Senate Judiciary committees that would end the NSA's collection of bulk phone records, and will try to mobilize “hundreds of thousands” in favor of the measure, Platt said.

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