ACLU Expresses Doubts About Senate Gun Bill
The ACLU has never had the reputation of being a strong defender of the 2nd Amendment, but they seem to be raising some serious concerns about the gun bill currently pending in the Senate:
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.
Those concerns have the capacity to prove a major setback to Sen. Harry Reid’s current gun bill, which includes language from earlier bills introduced by Sens. Chuck Schumer and Barbara Boxer.
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.
Calabrese — a privacy lobbyist — was first careful to note that the ACLU doesn’t strictly oppose universal background checks for gun purchases. “If you’re going to require a background check, we think it should be effective,” Calabrese explained.
“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.”
The easiest solution to this, of course, would be to treat records for private purposes the same way that records for sales by licensed sellers are treated and destroy the records rather than retaining them. The idea that these records could be turned into some kind of national gun registry is a real concern, and the ACLU’s privacy concerns are well-founded.
It would be nice to see the Senate address these concerns. For the moment, though, Harry Reid is playing his cards close to his vest and it isn’t at all clear how debate he’s going to allow on a bill that already has precarious chances of becoming law.