Feds get local police to record license plates of gun-show attendees

Feds get local police to record license plates of gun-show attendees
Recent gun show in Costa Mesa, CA. (Image: Screen grab of CBS 2 LA video, YouTube)

The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that the DHS agency ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, concocted a plan in 2010 to have police scan all the license plates at gun shows in Southern California.  (H/t: PJ Media)

The purpose was reportedly to compare the license plates to those of vehicles that later crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, and develop potential leads on gun-smuggling.

(For those who may be asking themselves the question: yes, the Fast & Furious gun-walking operation was still underway then.  Fast & Furious was being run by the Obama administration from 2009 to 2011.  Ironic, huh.)

WSJ recorded the nature of comments from gun rights and civil rights advocates, alongside those of federal officials:

The investigative tactic concerns privacy and guns-rights advocates, who call it an invasion of privacy. The law-enforcement officials say it is an important and legal tool for pursuing dangerous, hard-to-track illegal activity.

There is no indication the gun-show surveillance led to any arrests or investigative leads, but the officials didn’t rule out that such surveillance may have happened elsewhere. The agency has no written policy on its use of license-plate readers and could engage in similar surveillance in the future, they said.

Great news, I think, that there’s “no written policy” on recording the activities of law-abiding citizens, and it could be done again at any time, because, like, hey, man.  Very sound basis for protecting our rights.

Consider just these two points.  One, as mentioned, innocent citizens’ individual information is being mass recorded without cause.  One gun-rights advocate, quoted at PJM, points out that such data sweeps could be deemed violations of federal law.

Gun Owners of America’s Erich Pratt says, “Information on law-abiding gun owners ends up getting recorded, stored, and registered, which is a violation of the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act and of the Second Amendment.”

And that brings up point two.  Why didn’t the feds just do this themselves?  Because it would be a jurisdictional and legal problem for them to do it, precisely because of things like the 1986 law.  Getting local law enforcement to do it creates a series of legal baffles between the federal agencies and indignant citizens.

But that doesn’t force local law enforcement to answer questions about it.  The sheriff stonewalled queries after a mass recording of license plates at a gun show in Del Mar, CA in 2010:

The law-enforcement officials with knowledge of the operation confirmed ICE got local police officers to drive around the parking lot at the gun show and use their license-plate readers to collect all of the cars’ information. A spokeswoman for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on whether the department took part in the activity.

Uh-huh.

Now let’s contrast this mass recording of innocent citizens’ information, because they attended a gun show, with the federal government’s posture on illegal non-citizens.

The feds don’t deputize the police to run around recording the license plates of illegals in the U.S.  Instead, they actively prevent police and sheriff departments from noticing or doing anything about the illegals and their illegal status.

Through consent decrees, with police departments that are being extorted by the U.S. Justice Department, the Obama administration is turning cities into de facto “sanctuary cities.”

ICE has systematically failed to take custody of, and process, illegals who are often multiple offenders and have been deported multiple times, in spite of a federal policy that provides for doing just that.  (This is reportedly under orders from higher authority in DHS).  Resulting atrocities include that of Francisco Sanchez, the murderer of Kate Steinle in San Francisco in 2015.

Weird federal shenanigans have even included a reported stand down by the ICE Los Angeles field office in 2014, after the CBP standoffs with protesters at Murrieta, CA – a stand down that effectively gave the LAPD and LA Sheriff no one to call for potential ICE detentions.

There are nearly three dozen local jurisdictions that now simply ignore ICE detainers, in part because ICE often isn’t going to do anything with the illegals anyway, and in part because of pro-illegal political activism.

But this bureaucratic corruption isn’t enough.  No, the feds also have to sue states (other examples here and here) that try to inquire into illegals’ immigration status, if they happen upon them in the course of other law enforcement activities.

And the U.S. Congress has to affirm lawless sanctuary-city policies by refusing to withhold federal funds from cities that adopt them.

So, to summarize:  the U.S. federal government sues, stonewalls, and abuses states and citizens to prevent the enforcement of immigration law.  But it deputizes local law enforcement to do things it has no legal charter to do, and no written rules for, to innocent, law-abiding, taxpaying legal citizens – who happen to attend gun shows.

It’s an increasingly valid question why the innocent, law-abiding, taxpaying legal citizens should remain invested in this status quo at all.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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