While some states such as Illinois, New York, and California have registration of either gun owners or firearms, there is no such registration at the Federal level. Indeed, Congress has passed legislation forbidding the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives from even computerizing the paper records of out of business FFLs.
The Wall Street Journal ran a story today regarding preliminary discussions by banks and credit-card companies to identify purchases of firearms, ammo, and accessories.
The financial companies have explored creating a new credit-card code for firearms dealers, similar to how they code restaurants or department stores, according to people familiar with the matter. Another idea would require merchants to share information about specific firearm products consumers are buying, some of the people said.
Such data could allow banks to restrict purchases at certain businesses or monitor them. The talks, which are informal and might not lead to any action, have occurred against the backdrop of the national debate around guns in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., high-school shooting, which left 17 dead.
The move has the support of Everytown for Gun Safety (sic) whose spokesman Nicholas Suplina said to the Journal:
“Knowing where the customers are shopping isn’t a slippery slope to anything, it’s just one data point. I don’t think anybody’s asking financial institutions to determine whether a transaction is good or bad, but it may very well be a good idea for them to understand risks inherent in firearm sales.”
It may be merely a data point to Mr. Suplina but the implications to privacy and government intrusion are much more serious. You would have non-governmental agencies using their financial might to interfere with a constitutional right enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Moreover, what is to prevent financial regulators from passing data from these transactions to other government agencies. Public policy which impacts everyone should not be set by private actors. It is a legislative matter that should be conducted in broad daylight where everyone concerned has their say.
One of the rationales for this potential move is to remove the anonymity from “online” transactions. My friend Dave Cole of Black Man with a Gun pointed out the fallacy of this in a post yesterday on Facebook.
This is actually pretty funny when you think about it. On one hand, the antis want to end online purchases of guns and ammunition, because it’s too “anonymous.” And now they want to make it more difficult to use credit cards for those purchases?
You think it’s hard for Big Brother to monitor sales of guns and ammo now, just wait until they reduce us to having to walk into a brick-and-mortar gun shop and pay cash. If they really want to track this stuff, they ought to be encouraging people to buy all their gun stuff online with credit cards. Hell, they ought to have a rewards/points system for all your gun purchases with your BoA/Citi “Gun Nut” branded Mastercard.
Dave is correct. Many will return to paying cash at their local gun stores. Moreover, postal money orders might take longer to get to a non-local dealer but you are the one to put the payee on the face of it and not the postal clerk. Again, privacy.
If your senator is on the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, you might want to contact him or her regarding this. Likewise, if your representative is on the House Financial Services Committee, do the same. I’d go even further and say contact your representative and senators even if they aren’t on the committee. Even if they are a gun-hating lefty, you can still hit them with the privacy angle and make some logical extensions to other products such OTC birth control, LGBTQ publications, etc. Privacy is privacy.