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Beware the TAPS Act: Wholesale Domestic Surveillance of Gun Owners

By: José Niño

Gun owners have become accustomed to the typical types of gun grabs anti-gun politicians have rolled out in recent years. Assault weapons bans, universal background checks, and magazine bans are some of the usual proposals thrown our way. Second Amendment advocates have naturally built a strong opposition to these efforts and have generally made the gun control crowd break a sweat each time they try to advance such bills.

Not all infringements on the Second Amendment necessarily come from direct regulation or prohibitions on firearm ownership, however. Just look at H.R. 838, the “Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety Act (TAPS) Act.” The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) recently reported Texas Congressman Brian Babin (R) introduced this bill and had 47 new co-sponsors as of March 2020. It now has 180 total co-sponsors, with a bipartisan split of 90 Republicans and 90 Democrats; 38 cosponsors are needed for this bill to pass.

According to FPC, “H.R. 838 would permit levels of espionage against the American people not seen since the introduction of the Patriot Act.” Furthermore, this bill would set up a "Task Force" of 24 unelected individuals charged with managing a national strategy of surveilling private citizens under the pretense of "targeted violence through behavioral threat assessment."

Additionally, this bill would grant the Department of Homeland Security the power to issue grants to “eligible entities” to incentivize said entities to turn information over to “fusion centers,” which would involve state, federal, and local governments collaborating to maximize the “ability of such agencies to detect, prevent, investigate, apprehend, and respond to criminal or terrorist activity.”

Like any Big Brother project, the government could use the data to craft models based on behavior that would generally be viewed as innocuous. As FPC notes, this could be used to “target unwitting, innocent gun owners as potential ‘threats’” simply for partaking in the ever-so-dangerous act of purchasing multiple handguns per month. The TAPS Act would be a dream come true for any person who has the desire to make Minority Report come to life.

Tennessee Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R) withdrew his co-sponsorship of the bill after FPC was able to demonstrate how anti-freedom this bill is. It’s no exaggeration to say the modern-day managerial state is categorically against gun owners. Of the many boogiemen the Left and their false opposition on the establishment Right like to single out, gun owners are among the first. Let’s not forget that.

We should not be giving the social radicals in D.C. any more legal or bureaucratic power that they can use to infringe on our Second Amendment rights. Handing more power to the surveillance state to snoop on gun owners gives busybody politicians another avenue by which to subvert our freedoms. One way to keep the gun controllers in check is to completely scuttle the TAPS ACT before it gathers additional co-sponsors.

José Niño is a Venezuelan American freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at joseinpolitics@gmail.com. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.

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