The Danger of Databases

Gun control advocates often find gun owners’ opposition to databases irrational. In the minds of gun control advocates a database of gun owners, or at least people prohibited from owning firearms, is a good idea because it can decrease the proliferation of firearms in society. They are generally unconcerned with possibilities of abuse because in their eyes the state is a benevolent entity that obediently serves the people (unless it reduces the number of restrictions on gun ownership, then they believe it is an evil monster controlled by the National Rifle Association).

Gun owners realize those assumptions are incorrect. Databases do nothing to decrease the proliferation of firearms in society because individuals with enough interest in acquiring firearms will find a way to do so in a manner that bypasses any databases. Furthermore, gun owners realize that databases in the state’s hands will be abused:

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s billed by the FBI as “the lifeline of law enforcement” — a federal database used to catch criminals, recover stolen property and even identify terrorism suspects.

But authorities say Edwin Vargas logged onto the restricted system and ran names for reasons that had nothing to do with his duties as a New York Police Department detective. Instead, he was accused in May of looking up personal information on two fellow officers without their knowledge.


NYPD recruits are warned that “if you misuse or you access information in an inappropriate manner … you are in serious trouble — such as being prosecuted, being fired and also big fines,” a police academy instructor testified at the trial of Gilbert Valle, who was convicted in March in a bizarre plot to kidnap, cook and cannibalize women.

In addition, an FBI compliance unit conducts spot audits to examine users’ “policies, procedures, and security requirements,” the FBI said in a statement. The FBI also requires each state to have its own audit programs and claims that “malicious misuse is not commonly discovered.”

But both the instructor testifying at the Valle trial and an Internal Affairs Bureau investigator who took the witness stand in an earlier case have conceded that officers can easily circumvent safeguards.

Databases will always, I repeat always, be abused by the state.