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Old January 1, 2014, 01:42 PM   #1
johnelmore
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Edward Snowden

There are many opinions about Snowden, but my view is that he has protected firearms owners from unConstitutional surveillance. Many of us here have collections that we have obtained over the years and its anyones guess if some government agent is reading our emails or listening in on phonecalls because they believe our rifle collection is a threat to mankind.

Though controversial, Snowden has protected many groups of people from unwarranted scrutiny and strengthed our rights especially firearms owners who might one day come under the microscope.

The mass collection of data and snooping is simply wrong. The Nazis and the Communists should have taught everyone that lesson, but it seems no one was listening when the class was taught. Snowden in my mind is a hero and I feel safer today then I did before his revelations.
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Old January 1, 2014, 01:46 PM   #2
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This can be a contentious thread, so be careful.

Note that the NRA joined the ACLU in some of the legal action based on Snowden's revelation.

General rants pro and con him as an individual won't be allowed. Speak to issues he raised.
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Old January 1, 2014, 04:05 PM   #3
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The surveillance was certainly over the top, but I don't think the NSA has enough people working for them to actively track all 100 million firearms owners in the US. I suspect you would have needed to do something beyond that to get on their radar- Not necessarily something that SHOULD have gotten you on it however, given the IRS scandal.
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Old January 1, 2014, 04:14 PM   #4
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Guess an individual would have to weigh what National securities Snowden gave up, then look at his gun collection and see which is most valuable to him. All the while remembering that the government has no way of tracking every gun transaction made in the US so it's hardly possible for the gubment to have a complete record of everyones gun collection.

Once again, the gov't(especially this one) has got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Wasn't the first time...won't be the last.

Last edited by shortwave; January 1, 2014 at 04:31 PM.
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Old January 1, 2014, 05:20 PM   #5
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The government has no way to track a purchase... which you know of. They might be tracking purchases and ownerships using computerized methods such as credit card transactions.

Many states do track purchases and ownership through some type of system. Tracking ownership, I might note, does not stop criminality and violent behavior. They could also require people selling and using cocaine to register their drugs and drug sales/purchases to see if that stops their illegal behavior.
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Old January 1, 2014, 05:32 PM   #6
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No need to track every transaction. Setting a few "examples" would probably have a chilling effect on most collectors.
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Old January 1, 2014, 06:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnelmore
Though controversial, Snowden has protected many groups of people from unwarranted scrutiny and strengthed our rights especially firearms owners who might one day come under the microscope.
Technically, Snowden hasn't "protected" anybody from anything, because the NSA snooping continues unabated. The only difference is that now we know the government is watching everything we say, do and think ... whereas, before, we only suspected it.
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Old January 1, 2014, 06:06 PM   #8
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The surveillance was certainly over the top, but I don't think the NSA has enough people working for them to actively track all 100 million firearms owners in the US.
They only need a few to track a specific person. Potential for abuse with this degree of Intel gathering goes far beyond what the IRS could do with a few rogue agents. More dangerous, more powerful, and more capable of being the biggest threat to our civil rights. If that is not a cause for concern I don't know what is.

Quote:
I suspect you would have needed to do something beyond that to get on their radar- Not necessarily something that SHOULD have gotten you on it however, given the IRS scandal.
That is if no one abuses it and given our governments track record for checks and balances I have little faith that this will not be used against people at some point by someone if it continues as is.

Quote:
Once again, the gov't(especially this one) has got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Wasn't the first time...won't be the last
While only certain people are proven to been behind the IRS abuse, the way it was allowed to be carried out without an investigation long ago is a cause for concern. Investigating those who failed to act for so long should have been the among the first things done. That coupled with the lack of any real prosecution makes it an outrage. It is one thing to allow it to go own, it is another to not prosecute with fury those found responsible.

Good reason to not trust a government that does not hold it's own criminals responsible is even a better reason not to trust them with this kind of Intel gathering.
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Old January 1, 2014, 06:45 PM   #9
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What I see that Snowden has accomplished is that now more people are aware that the government is spying or at least has the capability of spying on any of us. A lot of folks that I knew thought that I was just paranoid when I suggested the possibility of such a thing and that our government "would never do such a thing". My belief is that those in power should never be trusted completely to not abuse their power.
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Old January 1, 2014, 07:00 PM   #10
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The whole thing reminds me of the scene from The Dark Knight where Batman has the cell phone sonar thing going. Mr. Fox (Morgan Freeman) says that no one should have that power.

...the thing is, unlike the movie, those in possession of similar capability don't seem to have many issues with their power. If you listen to what the President said, you won't hear much about abuses or that snooping on every American is wrong. He just makes vague statements about needing to give the American public confidence in our spy agencies.
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Old January 1, 2014, 07:10 PM   #11
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The surveillance was certainly over the top, but I don't think the NSA has enough people working for them to actively track all 100 million firearms owners in the US. I suspect you would have needed to do something beyond that to get on their radar- Not necessarily something that SHOULD have gotten you on it however, given the IRS scandal.
Yes they do. They collect all the data they can get their hands on, index it by whatever criteria, and then just store it away. When you or I do something to show up on their radar screen (perhaps publicly calling the president a "fink") they can go back and sift all the stored data to see if anything is exploitable.

They probably don't have the resources to analyze the data on all 100MM gun owners (or registered Republicans, or smokers, etc) at the same time, but they don't have to. Just hoover-up all the data in realtime, then use a small amount of it later at their leisure.
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Old January 1, 2014, 07:27 PM   #12
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As has already been said, nothing has changed yet. Is it going to? Probably a little just so they can say they are doing something but I suspect it will go on pretty much unabated. There are some very bright people involved and they get to write and inforce the laws.

I was raised when J. Edgar Hoover was Director of the FBI. The parallels to someone (or in this case a government agency) who knows where all the skeleton's are buried is troublesome beyond what I have the wit to put into words.

It is not the people that scare me as much as the computers. Software evolves, just look at the quality of softwares today and compare them to what we had just a few years ago. The quality of computer programmers they have involved in this is probably the best money can buy. What they can do over time is very scary if it is turned against the people.

What Snowden did should have started a snow ball going down hill that should have put a lot of very powerful people in prison or minimum cost them their government positions, but it is not going to.

I do not see how what Snowden did helps gun rights beyond what it does to alert us to the threats to all of our core rights. All we can do is cast our votes during an election. Sure there are recalls but they are too few to matter. I haven't voted for an incumbent since the Patriot Act. At some point I will have to get away from that. Change will only happen when elected officials have to answer for their votes and what they actually do when in office.

Why isn't there a public outcry for the de-funding of these programs. They were not mentioned as being hurt or set back during the government shutdown.

Enough from me. Everyone have a great day and new year.
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Old January 1, 2014, 07:36 PM   #13
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Just hoover-up all the data in realtime, then use a small amount of it later at their leisure.
Yeah, but what data can they hoover up? Gun shops still operate under a very archaic, non-digital system in which paper records are kept in an arbitrary order on the premises. Finding one guy's information is like finding a needle in a very big haystack.
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Old January 1, 2014, 07:51 PM   #14
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Yeah, but what data can they hoover up? Gun shops still operate under a very archaic, non-digital system in which paper records are kept in an arbitrary order on the premises. Finding one guy's information is like finding a needle in a very big haystack.
Very little data will about your guns until the electronic 4473 forms or bound-books actually go online (if ever) and even then they won't know about your old guns. But remember, they got Al Capone for tax evasion.

I am very much in favor of keeping the 4473 on paper.
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Old January 1, 2014, 08:42 PM   #15
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Yeah, but what data can they hoover up? Gun shops still operate under a very archaic, non-digital system in which paper records are kept in an arbitrary order on the premises. Finding one guy's information is like finding a needle in a very big haystack.
At the very least, I would assume they can hoover up anything you post on the Internet or send in an email. They might not know what exactly is in your safe, but they could probably tell how exactly many times you've referenced the NSA, ATF, 2nd Amendment or the Constitution online. There are already websites like Spokeo and Mylife that do a reasonable job gathering information on people and even matching up their profiles from different social networking sites. I can only imagine that the NSA have the technology and informational access to be 100 times more in depth and accurate.
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Old January 1, 2014, 09:10 PM   #16
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Lets say for example you make a 700 dollar purchase from a known gun store. The NSA could catch the purchase on the credit card landing you on a watch list. So I think there are ways they can develop a watch list...if its not being done already. They might reason out that they have to track such purchases in the name of protecting the country from terrorism.

There are a lot of things they could be doing.
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Old January 1, 2014, 09:22 PM   #17
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What Snowden did should have started a snow ball going down hill that should have put a lot of very powerful people in prison or minimum cost them their government positions, but it is not going to.
Few people in government positions have to face any consequences for wrong doing even if they "accept full responsibility". It is one of the sad aspects of how our government has evolved (or devolved). Responsibility ain't what it used to be!
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Old January 1, 2014, 09:35 PM   #18
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JimDandy noted
Quote:
The surveillance was certainly over the top, but I don't think the NSA has enough people working for them to actively track all 100 million firearms owners in the US. I suspect you would have needed to do something beyond that to get on their radar- Not necessarily something that SHOULD have gotten you on it however, given the IRS scandal.
That's a very myopic view.
Here's how it works: You collect 'infinite' amounts of data, catalogue it, tree it, cross reference it, spider it, then sit on it until you need actionable intelligence, leverage or something else. You collect EVERYTHING you can touch or imagine. Even on your friends, (who may not be your friends tomorrow).
When a person, group, country or unknown become a possible threat, your database of near infinite information becomes most significant, particularly in the ability to take down or pervert commas or cyber systems.

I seriously doubt if if all the data collected on gun applications and other gun info isn't stored somewhere, even if the original agency deletes it. Intel agencies don't destroy data, and there are more than 20 known agencies in the US.
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Old January 1, 2014, 10:19 PM   #19
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The NSA could catch the purchase on the credit card landing you on a watch list. So I think there are ways they can develop a watch list...if its not being done already.
They could. Heck, they could be monitoring just about everything we write, and DIRTYBOMB ALQUAIDA FEMA SPILLOVER EBOLA MILITIA STANDOFF.

Let's for a second consider the sheer number of credit card transactions that occur at retail every day. Even if they had a surveillance program to tap that, it would have to work transparently with dozens of payment processing companies, all running several different types of hardware and operating systems.

In short, anyone who's worked with large-scale IT projects will tell you it won't work.

They could conceivably target certain processing companies or retailers, but I doubt that would stay quiet for long. While I'm dismayed at both the extent of spying we've seen, as well as the arrogance behind it, I just don't see the NSA being able to assemble any kind of legible, working registry of guns.
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Old January 1, 2014, 10:55 PM   #20
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Tom, I agree With You

I actually think our guns will be the one of the last things they will actually come after.
Whoever they are!!

They will take this or that but leave us our guns. As law abiding citizens we are no threat to them, you have your guns so why should you feel personally threatened! They have a totally different different vision of what the world future looks like. I personally do not want to live in the world vision they have.

Interesting thread, hope we can keep this open.
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Old January 1, 2014, 11:01 PM   #21
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1. Many of the revelations Snowden made had already been revealed by previous whistleblowers - none of whom fled the country with a laptop of sensitive secrets that they handed over to our enemies.

2. There are a ton of commercial data marketing firms that can and do look at your purchasing history. The government can buy that information the same way Cabela's can (minus whatever toothless statutory restrictions apply).

3. So far, about the only bonus Snowden has added to privacy is his leaks punched a hole in attempts to deny standing in several suits based on earlier whistleblower testimony and they have garnered a ton of media attention that none of the previous half-dozen whistleblowers ever received despite saying mostly the same things - which to me is one of the more curious aspects about Snowden.
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Old January 1, 2014, 11:39 PM   #22
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Could they ever create a gun registry? Probably not. However, there was the story of the other official who came out and said that the main purpose behind the process was to gain information for law enforcement. When they want you, they can use the information already indexed to find out things about you to go after you or coerce you into giving them legally obtained information that can be used against you in court.

Imagine they learn that you don't have a CWL but you bring your gun from your apartment to your car where it's illegal in your state because you want to protect yourself. That you bought a gun and removed the permanent flash hider and the barrel length ended up being 15.8". You're looking at felonies there for laws you might not even know existed.

What we don't know is what the system looks like and what type of information they can store, but what we do know is that the capability to do so is ever increasing as software technology gets stronger. It's myopic to look at the question and say that they can't build a gun registry simply because the technology doesn't exist yet. The 4th amendment still exists with new technology the same as the 1st amendment didn't disappear when we got satellite TV. So the more important question should be where the line is on this kind of surveillance and how much of it (if any) is constitutional.
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Old January 2, 2014, 04:25 AM   #23
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I know they may not have the ability to track things right now, but computing power keeps doubling each year and they are building this super facility for the purpose of monitoring. They may not have the ability now but give them 10 years and they will. Snowden sounded the alarm early on in the game.
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Old January 2, 2014, 07:48 AM   #24
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They may not have the ability now but give them 10 years and they will. Snowden sounded the alarm early on in the game.
25 Years ago would maybe have been early in the game, this is very late in the game. As the "Slippery Slope" goes this is already a growing oak.

This was done in the name of fighting terrorism, one of the sad things is this program will only catch the amatures and probably few of them. The professional's who we really need protection from have known about this for years. I remember a Gene Hackman movie from the 80's maybe early 90's that was mostly about this very thing.

I am thinking we will be electing officials for years who will be campaining on this very thing to do something about this but something will never happen. To get the Lottery in Texas they justified it saying it would fund our schools so it passed. Then it was revieled that the money actually went in the general fund and not to schools. Politicians for years campained to give Lottery proceeds directly to schools but it never happened. Why actually do something when you loose a campain talking point.

Holiday's over!! I gotta get ready for work.
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Old January 2, 2014, 09:47 AM   #25
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That's a very myopic view.
Here's how it works: You collect 'infinite' amounts of data, catalogue it, tree it, cross reference it, spider it, then sit on it until you need actionable intelligence, leverage or something else.
Quote:
Yeah, but what data can they hoover up? Gun shops still operate under a very archaic, non-digital system in which paper records are kept in an arbitrary order on the premises. Finding one guy's information is like finding a needle in a very big haystack.
There's the phone call. The E-form. Gunbroker, Armslist, and so on. More than they should. But again, they'd still need a reason to stick a warm body in front of a keyboard to look at it. Which isn't likely to come from a trip to the store in and of itself.

So what you're saying is they passively collect a bunch of stuff about you or I, and sit on it (catalog), until you come to their attention for something they care about (need actionable intelligence). Gee. Sounds pretty much like what I said, so I guess we're both myopic

Quote:
Yes they do. They collect all the data they can get their hands on, index it by whatever criteria, and then just store it away.
That is passively tracking. To put a warm body on the screen looking at Joe from Anytown, USA day in and day out is actively tracking.

Quote:
Let's for a second consider the sheer number of credit card transactions that occur at retail every day. Even if they had a surveillance program to tap that, it would have to work transparently with dozens of payment processing companies, all running several different types of hardware and operating systems.
This is certainly accurate. It's also not the way the NSA would track gun sales. A credit card slip doesn't say what you bought. It just says you spent XYZ dollars at ABC location. They'd transcribe the 4473 phone call. Name, description, long gun/pistol it's all there. And they still wouldn't be 100% accurate doing that. They wouldn't know which ones were gifts, which ones you sold later to the guy who's back yard adjoins your back yard, and so on.

Quote:
Could they ever create a gun registry? Probably not.
Sure they could. A couple states already have, without the NSA. If the Feds wanted to, the NSA would not be the agency they use. Congress would pass a law reclaiming all the bound books, require a voluntary-ish registration from everyone, and then start tracking all the transactions, for the basics. Hope you kept a copy of the receipt and possibly ID of any second hand sales you made.

Quote:
Imagine they learn that you don't have a CWL but you bring your gun from your apartment to your car where it's illegal in your state because you want to protect yourself. That you bought a gun and removed the permanent flash hider and the barrel length ended up being 15.8". You're looking at felonies there for laws you might not even know existed.
Both of those examples are more likely caught by a LEO/Citizen seeing you, than an email sucked up by the NSA. And both of those are "your" fault, much more so than performing websearches by multiple family members for backpacks, a pressure cooker for your quinoa, and news on the Boston Bombing.
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