Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the City of Chicago should be allowed access to federal records of gun traces and transactions, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) announced today it will file an amicus curiae brief with the High Court, insisting that information about firearms purchases by private citizens should remain confidential, and not open to snooping by municipal governments suing the gun industry.
“We do not believe that Chicago, or any other city, has the right to conduct legal fishing expeditions in an effort to establish what would amount to a de facto registry, by a municipal government, of gun buyers,” said SAF Public Affairs Director Dave LaCourse.
The case relates to the City of Chicago’s lawsuit against the firearms industry, in which the city is trying to recover money from gunmakers to cover the cost of crimes committed with guns. Chicago, like several other cities that have filed similar industry lawsuits, is claiming that industry marketing practices promote lawbreaking.
“Anti-gun rights municipalities, including Chicago, should never be permitted to snoop through records maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms,” said SAF Founder Alan Gottlieb. “What Chicago is asking for is a court-sanction invasion of privacy that could potentially affect hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens who have done nothing more than exercise their Constitutional right to own a firearm. If the High Court allows Chicago to access those records, who’s next? Anti-gun municipal governments across the map would be lining up for a peek.”
Chicago wants access to the records under a federal public information law that allows access to unclassified government records. The Bush Administration contends that federal law requires records on gun transactions and gun traces to remain confidential, not only to protect the privacy of gun owners, but also to safeguard police investigations.
“There is absolutely no legitimate reason why Chicago could want to know the identity of a law-abiding gun buyer in another municipality,” LaCourse observed. “There are multitude illegitimate reasons why an anti-gun administration like that of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley may want that information, but just because he wants to play Big Brother to gun owners doesn’t mean the Supreme Court should allow him to do it.”
“This is both a Second and Fourth Amendment issue,” Gottlieb added. “Not only do citizens have an individual right to keep and bear arms, they also have a right to be ‘secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches’. Chicago seems eager to scrap the Fourth Amendment in its effort to scuttle the Second.”