On Tuesday night, Buzz Feed posted an article entitled, “How The NRA Built A Massive Secret Database of Gun Owners: While the National Rifle Association publically fights against a national gun registry, the organization has gone to incredible lengths to compile information on “tens of millions” of gun owners -- without their consent.”
First, lets look at some of the main allegations.
1. “the countries largest privately held database of current, former and prospective gun owners”
2. buying gun permit records from government offices
3. collecting names of those who attend classes held by a NRA-certified instructor
4. buying gun show attendance lists
5. the NRA would not divulge the number of names in its database to the writer of the article
6. having the ability to build a highly specific marketing campaign around people in their database
7. having advantages over the gun control lobby who is attempting to counter the NRA’s influence
8. having their name written into the laws of many states, as the certifying body from whom firearms instruction must be procured
9. putting alternative gun-related organizations at a disadvantage
As you can probably already see, many of these allegations are ridiculous. The NRA is a for-profit organization, this means that they have every right to market and advertise to the American public. In this day and age, if anyone with a clipboard asks you for your name and any ounce of contact information, you better believe they intend to use it, or sell it.
While the NRA does spend a lot of time lobbying, they have also build a nationally recognized certification process. Just like electrical appliances have “UL” and scuba divers have “PADI”, shooters and firearms instructors have the NRA. Does this mean they offer the best standards and instructors? Absolutely not, but since our government can't know everything about everything, many certification entities spring up, grow to be well known and are then relied upon to create the standards by which we live.
Accusing the NRA of having an advantage over its competitors is like the spoiled sport, who flings the board and all its contents at game night. Is it the NRA’s fault? Absolutely not! In fact, the real concerning fact brought up by this Buzzfeed piece, is the government agencies that are willing to sell the information of Americans who are following the laws and obtaining gun permits.
As the article points out in its last paragraphs, gun owners aren’t bother by the NRA’s collection of data on us. While the writer is baffled by this, he quotes a former NRA member as saying “they [gun owners] probably won’t care, because the NRA is not part of the government.” And really, that’s the DUH!! moment of their article. The NRA has a not-so- “secret” database, and they keep the data secret! Knowing that it exists just allows us non-members to opt-out Our government rarely gives us such a luxury and definitely doesn't have such a stellar track record with keep data private.
Buzzfeed wants NRA to seem as bad as the government article