By Richard Andrew

The NRA has said for many years that the Government should not invade a gun owners’ privacy by logging their personal data into a database or registry. They have gone to great lengths to make sure that this sort of data collection doesn’t happen, by lobbying congressional members of the House and Senate, to make sure it stays off the law books. They have done this to “protect” the rights of gun owners…  or so the NRA would have its members believe.

According to Steve Friess, a BuzzFeed contributor, “The National Rifle Association has rallied gun owners — and raised tens of millions of dollars — campaigning against the threat of a national database of firearms or their owners.”

The fact is, writes, “The NRA has spent years secretly collecting information about gun owners from state and local offices and has built the country’s largest privately held database of current, former and prospective gun owners. While the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre was spreading fear that if universal background checks were allowed, it would lead to taxes on guns and confiscation.”

“That’s what [the feds] are after, the names of good, decent people all over this country, who happen to own firearms to go into a federal database or universal registration, every lawful gun owner in America, ”LaPierre said in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “That’s their answer to criminal violence… are they insane?”

The NRA has been getting information on its dues-paying members and has collected more information on non-members. The NRA has also collected from people “who have attended gun-safety classes taught by NRA-certified instructors or gun shows.” When NRA spokesman, Andrew Arulanandam was asked what happens to the data collected during these safety classes, he replied, “ “That’s not any of your business.”

The NRA also collected gun permit information from state and county offices, as well as the names of gun magazine subscribers.They have gotten information, from millions of Americans, without asking them for permission. According to Buzzfeed, Laura Quinn, CEO of Catalist, a data analysis firm used by Obama for America, said, “The NRA is not only able to understand people who their members are but also people who are not their members. The more data they have, the more it allows them [to] test different strategies and different messages on different people.”

What kind of power is it that can overcome the will of 86% of the populace who support background checks, a move that the NRA has spent millions to block in Washington? We now know that this database exists, and so the bigger question remains, how did we (the voting public) not realize that this data allowed them so much power?

Richard Andrew is a contributor to Ring of Fire.