The National Rifle Association announced this week that they are backing a lawsuit brought forth by the American Civil Liberties Union that aims to end the U.S. government’s phone surveillance program.
The ACLU’s lawsuit asserts that the telephone surveillance and record collection program that was leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden is unconstitutional, alleging that it exceeds the authority of the government as defined in the Patriot Act.
The NRA claims in its brief that the reason for backing the lawsuit is because it potentially violates the rights of gun owners.
The brief itself states that the surveillance program could lead to the creation of a national gun registry, which NRA leaders say would be a violation of the Second Amendment.
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“If programs like those currently justified by the government’s interpretation are allowed to continue and grow unchecked, they could also — contrary to clear congressional intent — undo decades of legal protection for the privacy of Americans in general, and of gun owners in particular,” says the brief.
According to the ACLU, the government’s collection of American’s call records is “inconsistent with the goals of Congress when it enacted the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 1978.”
Jameel Jaffer, one of the ACLU lawyers on the lawsuit, says, “Americans from across the political spectrum value individual privacy. The philosophical roots may differ, but I think that is a widely shared American value.”
President Barack Obama has staunchly defended the NSA surveillance program, saying that what they are doing is not illegal and is actually keeping Americans safer.
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While traveling through Europe this week, the President again jumped to the defense of the program. “I can give assurances to the publics in Europe and around the world that we’re not going around snooping at peoples’ emails or listening to their phone calls,” said President Obama. “What we try to do is to target very specifically areas of concern.”
Still, groups like the NRA are weary of what this program could potentially do to gun owners and non-gun owners alike, and are stepping into the ring to try to stop it.