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According to emails recently obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), worked in concert to create plans to surveil gun show participants.

The surveillance was to be carried out using the recently exposed, and controversial License Plate Reader (LPR) technology.

The document, from April of 2009, in part reads:

“DEA Phoenix Division Office is working closely with ATF on attacking the guns going to [redacted] and the gun shows, to include programs/operation with LPRs at the gun shows.”

Virtually the entire rest of the document was redacted by the government.

The DEA, in response to questions from the ACLU regarding the document, claimed that this was simply a proposal and was never actually implemented.

The fact that the DEA/ATF are even considering engaging in surveillance of participants in constitutionally protected activities should raise red flags but comes as no surprise.

Your average American, exercising their constitutional rights, should not have to be concerned about ending up in a DEA/ATF database for simply attending a gun show.

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These devices have previously been used by law enforcement at political events, as well as outside of religious houses of worship; very disturbing places to be conducting blanket surveillance of Americans.

Law enforcement continually chooses to engage in surveillance of a multitude of peaceful, constitutionally protected gatherings and assemblies rather than respect the law abiding citizen's rights.

The idea that law enforcement uses passive software that takes down every license plate it encounters and logs the time and location to create a map/searchable database of where everyone is on a daily basis is quite alarming.

The use of this LPR technology to basically put every single person that has a car registered in their name under 24-hour a day surveillance has potentially ominous implications and speaks to the police state we currently live under.

This technology is being used as a means of quasi-blanket physical surveillance of an entire population and has the potential for an extreme chilling effect on freedom.

The potential for abuse by the law enforcement cannot be overstated.

The overarching and repressive nature of the security apparatus shines through when it utilizes new technologies against society at large.

In police state USA, everyone is a suspect and security is the excuse to steal your liberty.

Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay's work has previously been published on and You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.