WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- The National Rifle Association joined the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit seeking to end the U.S. government's massive phone record collection program.
In a brief filed in federal court, the NRA said the National Security Agency database of phone records is tantamount to a "national gun registry," The Hill reported Wednesday.
"It would be absurd to think that the Congress would adopt and maintain a web of statutes intended to protect against the creation of a national gun registry, while simultaneously authorizing the FBI and the NSA to gather records that could effectively create just such a registry," the gun lobbying group said.
The ACLU suit, filed in June with U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, asks the court to immediately halt the NSA's monitoring program and declare it illegal, as well as order the government to delete all databases of the call records.
In its filing, the NRA said the NSA database could allow the government to identify and track gun owners based on whether they've called gun stores, shooting ranges or the NRA. The NRA brief said the program violates its members' First Amendment rights of free association and communication.
Also filing a friend-of-the-court brief was Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., author of the Patriot Act, who previously said he never meant the NSA to go as far as it did, the ACLU said in a release Thursday. Sensenbrenner has criticized the call-records program as beyond the scope of the law he authored.
The ACLU said it received support last week from 30 law professors and two former members of the Church Committee -- a U.S. Senate committee in the 1970s that, among other things, recommended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Also joining the ACLU lawsuit Wednesday were the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, along with several news organizations. The groups claim the phone data collection inhibits the ability of journalists in news-gathering efforts.