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Gun rights groups are throwing their weight behind efforts on Capitol Hill to rein in the National Security Agency (NSA).
The National Rifle Association (NRA) is among a number of groups that have signed on to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit against the secretive government agency.
The NRA has also endorsed bipartisan legislation proposed by House and Senate Judiciary committees that would end the NSA’s collection of bulk phone records.
Gun groups fear the NSA could have the authority under a section of the PATRIOT Act to collect information that could be used to create a federal gun database. They also fear the government could be spying on, or eventually targeting, gun owners.
The NSA reform push has blurred the usual political lines in Congress, uniting liberals and Tea Party Republicans, and made for strange bedfellows on the advocacy side. The ACLU said it sought out gun rights advocates to bolster their cause.
“I reached out to [the NRA] because I didn’t think they were aware of it, and they weren’t,” said Laura Murphy, the ACLU head lobbyist in its Washington office. Murphy said she showed the group FBI training manuals on how to collect firearm records.
“If we’re working with an organization and we can agree on one narrow principled objective, even if we disagree 90 percent of the time, we’ll find a way to work together. … [W]hen it comes to developing strategic alliances, both of our organizations are very sophisticated,” Murphy said.