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Property Rights, Privacy, Integrity and the Firearms Community

The CSSA is expressing its disappointment regarding the actions of a fellow Canadian firearm advocacy group in the rising waters of a CPC membership list scandal poised to drown that group.

“The CSSA condemns the actions of the National Firearms Association (NFA) and its use of improperly obtained data to solicit membership and donations. The use of the improperly obtained membership list demonstrates a failure to comprehend the violation of the property rights of another organization, the Conservative Party of Canada, and the privacy rights of every individual on that list, including many CSSA members,” stated Tony Bernardo, CSSA’s Executive Director.

After dozens of party members complained on social media about receiving solicitation letters from a third party, the Conservative Party of Canada issued this statement on Facebook on June 2, 2017:

“We are aware that our members are being contacted by an outside organization. The Conservative Party has not – and will never – release our members’ personal information to anyone.”

“We will be issuing a Cease & Desist letter to the organization in question, demanding that they destroy the list. We have also identified the parties responsible for sharing the information, and will be taking disciplinary action against them.”

Bernardo continued, “The CSSA applauds the Conservative Party for addressing this issue quickly and decisively. We trust they will conduct their investigation in a timely manner and deal with the offending parties accordingly.”

National News Watch confirmed the name of the organization using the stolen mailing list:

“Party spokesman Cory Hann later confirmed that the organization is the National Firearms Association.”

While it is not clear how this membership list came into the possession of the National Firearms Association, common sense dictates the use of that list is immoral, unethical and very likely illegal.

Daniel Fritter, editor of Calibre Magazine, wrote the following in a series of Facebook posts:

“The NFA obtained private Conservative Party membership information, including addresses, and used that information to send unsolicited membership surveys and forms to CPC members. This is nothing short of reprehensible. Such conduct is, in the opinion of everyone at Calibre, disgusting.”

“We [gun owners] sure will take flak for it, but #goawayNFA.”

“And just how on God’s green earth does the NFA hope to represent gun owners to the one gun-friendly party in this country after stealing their most important data and using it for profit?  They’re done. It’s an incredible shame, but this is the sort of transgression that gun owners cannot allow, and cannot forgive.”

We simply don’t get it. Why would the experienced NFA leadership expect to get away with this when it is standard industry practice to “salt” membership lists with fake names and addresses precisely to deal with this type of privacy breach?

One thing is certain. The National Firearms Association has destroyed its credibility with the only political party that supports the private ownership of firearms in Canada, hardly a recipe for effective advocacy work. The CSSA is saddened and puzzled by these actions. They were so unnecessary.

For many years, Canadian gun organizations opposed the long-gun registry. One of the key points was that data on a list could be illicitly obtained and used unethically.

It appears we were right.

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