October 8, 2017

THE CONSTITUTION, ON THE OTHER HAND, IS CONDITIONAL:

A modest proposal about guns and tech following the Las Vegas massacre (CHRIS O'BRIEN, OCTOBER 3, 2017, Venture Beat)

Left unspoken is how the government might be confident enough to so quickly make such a public assessment. The answer: The U.S. government has constructed a massive surveillance state under the rationale of that we are willing to forfeit our privacy in the name of fighting terrorism.

The first time this really hit me was after the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013. Incredibly, within three days law enforcement were able to narrow in on two Chechen brothers who, it turns out, the feds had been tracking for some time, having intercepted and analyzed contents of phone calls, emails, and travel records. It was just a few months later that the first Snowden revelations were made that truly allowed us to see the scope of how the U.S. government was spying on foreign targets, but capturing enormous amounts of data from U.S. citizens in the process.

While there was some controversy around this, really, nothing changed. For the most part, Americans seem totally fine with having this huge repository of our data in the hands of the government, because we're willing to do anything in the name of stopping terrorism.

Now, contrast that to the Vegas shooter.

The guy apparently legally acquired what officials were estimating to be 10 suitcases of firearms. [...]

One would think that somebody amassing a personal arsenal like that would have sent up some red flags. But nope. Because when it comes to gun purchases, we have intentionally tied the hands of law enforcement by effectively forbidding them to share and retain information about such things.

While federal law requires licensed gun dealers to maintain sales records, it also requires the FBI to destroy approved background check records, hampering law enforcement efforts. States can -- and should -- take important steps to fill the gaps in federal law.

This is staggering to consider. On one hand, we have federal agencies running deep analysis across all forms of digital communications to divine the tiniest morsel of information that might warrant adding someone to the list of people to monitor. On the other hand, we are actively preventing law enforcement from getting notice about some dude who might be amassing a cache of weapons to wreak havoc.

It seems like creating a national database of gun purchases and gun owners is a minimally prudent thing to do. Because just maybe you might want a law enforcement agent go at least knock on his door and see what's what if someone is legally buying 10 suitcases full of weapons.

We don't do this because the gun lobby is absolutist. 

Posted by at October 8, 2017 8:14 AM

  

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