ACLU Says in Proposed Gun Legislation Might Infringe on Privacy Rights and Civil Liberties

In this March 14, 2013 file photo, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. , speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Gun control legislation the Senate debates next month will include an expansion of federal background checks for firearms buyers, Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday, March 21, 2013, in a victory for advocates of gun restrictions. (Photo: AP/Cliff Owen)

The proposed gun legislation introduced by Sen. Harry Reid has already been met with strong opposition. But there’s a new group expressing “serious concerns” that might come as a surprise to some — the American Civil Liberties Union.

According to an exclusive report by The Daily Caller, the ACLU takes issue with the requirement of universal background checks in that it could infringe upon privacy and civil liberties.

Speaking with The Daily Caller’s The DC Wednesday, Chris Calabrese, a privacy lobbyist with the ACLU, said in its current state the proposed universal background checks “raises two significant concerns.”

One of these is that the keeping of purchase records could be used inappropriately or could eventually lead to a national gun registry.

“[U]nfortunately, we have seen in the past that the creation of these types of records leads sometimes to the creation of government databases and collections of personal information on all of us,” Calabrese told TheDC. “That’s not an inevitable result, but we have seen that happen in the past, certainly.”

“As we’ve seen with many large government databases, if you build it, they will come,” he continued.

Calabrese said that exisiting law prevents these types of records from being used for other purposes beyond those for which they were originally intended and the Privacy Act should ban transfer of databases between agencies. But, as TheBlaze has reported before about the new guidelines for the National Counterterrorism Center that allows it to obtain and retain information from government datasets. Calabrese called up the center’s new guidelines as an example that helps spur concern over the universal background check records as well.

Calabrese said that “privacy best practices” — like destroying information after it is no longer needed for it’s original purpose and not using it for other purposes — are not included in the proposed gun legislation.

“So you just worry that you’re going to see searches of the databases and an expansion for purposes that were not intended when the information was collected,” he told TheDC.

The ACLU’s second issue with the legislation comes with its definition of the term “transfer.” Here’s more from TheDC regarding their position:

“[I]t’s certainly a civil liberties concern,” Calabrese told TheDC. “You worry about, in essence, a criminal justice trap where a lawful gun owner who wants to obey the law inadvertently runs afoul of the criminal law.”

“They don’t intend to transfer a gun or they don’t think that’s what they’re doing, but under the law they can be defined as making a transfer. We think it’s important that anything that is tied to a criminal sanction be easy to understand and avoid allowing too much prosecutorial discretion.”

Read more about the ACLU’s concerns with proposed gun legislation in The Daily Caller’s article here.

Related:

(H/T: Business Insider)