By John Richardson and Paul Lathrop
On Friday evening we were contacted by Jeff Hulsey, a retired gunsmith from the Gulf Coast region of Texas. Jeff had a problem. Starting back in August of 2013 He began receiving emails at his personal email inbox, which is through the popular Gmail domain, that it did not appear were intended for him.
The emails were from the National Association for Gun Rights, a Colorado based 501c4 organization with the stated purpose of “Educating gun owners and gun rights’ supporters in gun rights issues both at the local and federal level”.
Jeff provided an email that he had redacted the identifying information from. The information, such as email address of the sender and the sender’s telephone number as well as any other information of a personal nature provided in the body of the email seemed to be forwarded from inside the organization. At the top of the email sent to us was a one word sentence. “Rebuttal?”
To Jeff, this looked like a simple mistake. It looked like someone had the wrong email address and was forwarding him email incorrectly. He tried to contact NAGR and got no response. He has since received about one email a month from them following the same pattern.
What concerns Jeff is the fact that even though he is trying to point out the fairly obvious error that they are making that they are leaking personal information to an unknown source. We asked Jeff if these emails were truly unsolicited. He replied, “Absolutely unsolicited. The only dealings I’ve ever had with the NAGR were to score a couple of stickers for the side of my toolbox. I’m not even a member.”
When asked if the rest of the emails looked like the email he provided to us he stated, “Yes. It’s random questions from people who visited their “Contact Us” page, then forwarded by someone within their organization for follow-up or review. Some of them contain some very specific personal information, like the USPS worker who details which facility he works at in pursuit of an answer to a legal question.”
Jeff has tried to get NAGR to correct this situation with no results. He’s gone to his local Better Business Bureau hoping that they could get NAGR to fix this situation with similar results. Out of his frustration over the situation, he is going public with it in the hopes that Dudley Brown and NAGR can get their act together. More importantly, he says that “NAGR needs to come clean on this and admit to fumbling private data, and openly implement measures to prevent it from happening again. Scrubbing my email from their lists isn’t good enough. They need to go through every email they’ve been forwarding mail to, every list they maintain, and make sure each email on that list belongs there.”
The National Association for Gun Rights wants to be considered a major player on the gun rights front. At least that is what you are led to believe from the daily emails that they are sending out to what must be millions on their email lists. Of course, for those of us who know better, it is just spam.
An outgrowth of Dudley Brown’s Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, they have started to try and insert themselves into the gun politics of states other than Colorado. This is often in opposition to groups like the NRA and state-level gun rights organizations.
Privacy and data security is a serious issue and needs to be taken seriously. If NAGR wants to be taken seriously, they need to do something about this issue and sooner than later.