We have a justifiable fear of our private actions being made public. I don’t want the government to know where I go to church or if I have a gun. Given the audience likely to read this, the concern would be properly phrased, I don’t want the government to know how often I go to church, how many guns I own and where I
hide keep them. It’s none of the government’s business. So what should we do about widespread government spying?
The government doesn’t need to monitor my phone calls and listen to every word to know I’m a gun owner and gun advocate. The government doesn’t need to hack my computer because lots of people could figure out I own a gun. My credit card company knows I own a gun. So does my bank. All they have to do is look at where I do business. My phone company knows because I make calls to shooting ranges and gun shops. My internet service provider knows that I browse gun auction sites, and my online search engine knows when I shop for gun parts. My computer knows I have a gun because of the records it keeps about where I’ve browsed the internet. That is why those advertisements for sporting goods stores pop up on my computer screen.
My gun ownership is not a secret. I’ve left a very visible trail that covers my local gun shops and shooting ranges, online retailers, and the US mail. Depending on where I buy ammunition, even the UPS delivery driver and the clerk at Walmart know I own a gun. They know without using electronic eavesdropping. I practice safe computing and check my credit records, but the government does not need a federal gun registry to figure out I own a gun.
I am not telling you to give up and simply trust the government. On the contrary; you are out of your mind if you trust a Chicago politician. My point is that we leave a large trail that doesn’t start or stop with the internet. Even my car knows I own a gun because of that black box recorder onboard, the GPS in my car, and emergency monitoring systems like OnStar. Suppose I never take a single cell phone call, yet my phone company knows I own a gun because the cell phone towers show I was at the shooting range every Saturday morning. Those records are not secure. My profile of gun ownership is exposed without having to show probable cause and get a court order from a judge to tap into my phone or computer.
Technology isn’t the problem. We face a political problem rather than a technical one. We are concerned today because our government has broken its contract with the citizens. Secrecy and retreat are not the path to our security. The path to liberty is through an increase in political activity, so don’t cut up your credit cards and check book just yet. For our own safety, we must demand that even a disfavored minority has full and complete civil rights. That culture of freedom is our best defense. That is why gun owners need to be politically active rather than reclusive. That is particularly true today.
Besides, being politically active is more fun than living in an unregistered cave.
Rob the activist