The National Rifle Association joined the American Civil Liberties Union’s lawsuit on Wednesday to end the government’s massive phone record collection program.
In a brief filed in federal court, the NRA argues that the National Security Agency’s database of phone records amounts to a “national gun registry.”
“It would be absurd to think that the Congress would adopt and maintain a web of statutes intended to protect against the creation of a national gun registry, while simultaneously authorizing the FBI and the NSA to gather records that could effectively create just such a registry,” the group writes.
After leaks by Edward Snowden, the NSA acknowledged that it collects records on virtually all U.S. phone calls. The data include phone numbers, call times and call durations, but not the contents of the conversations. The NSA says it only “queries” the database a limited number of times for specific national security reasons.
The NSA argues that Congress authorized the phone data surveillance with Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows for the collection of business records “relevant” to terrorism.
In its filing, the gun-rights group claims that the NSA’s database would allow the government to identify and track gun owners based on whether they’ve called gun stores, shooting ranges or the NRA.