by Dr. Eowyn
Although there are rules preventing banks and credit-card companies from seeing what customers are buying, if the New York Times has its way, those financial companies would begin to do just that. Not only would they see what we purchase, but the NYT would also have them monitor and ban our gun purchases.
Writing for the New York Times on Dec. 24, 2018, financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin justifies himself by asserting that “credit cards have become a crucial part of the planning” of mass shooting in the past decade in that “many of the killers . . . built their stockpiles of high-powered weapons with the convenience of credit”. Not only did “the killers financed their attacks using credit cards. Some used credit to acquire firearms they could not otherwise have afforded.”
Although “some banks ended their relationships with gunmakers and some investors pushed manufacturers for more transparency” after the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, “financial firms have so far resisted changing the way they deal with the sale of guns. Banks and credit-card networks say it is not their responsibility to create systems to track gun purchases that would allow them to report suspicious patterns.”
Sorkin then highlights two credit card companies that are resisting his call to monitor and ban gun purchases:
- Visa spokeswoman Amanda Pires said: “We do not believe Visa should be in the position of setting restrictions on the sale of lawful goods or services. Our role in commerce is to efficiently process, protect and settle all legal payments. Asking Visa or other payment networks to arbitrate what legal goods can be purchased sets a dangerous precedent.”
- A spokesman for Mastercard echoed Pires and emphasized that Mastercard protects “cardholders’ independence” and the “privacy of their own purchasing decisions.”
To counter Visa’s and Mastercard’s refusal to monitor and ban gun purchases, Sorkin equates gun violence with terrorism, quoting John Streur, CEO of mutual fund firm Calvert Investments: “In a very real sense, I think these mass shootings are terrorism.” Sorkin writes:
[A]fter the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the government enacted even stricter rules under the Patriot Act: Banks must file so-called Suspicious Activity Reports for transactions involving more than $5,000 that the financial institution “has reason to suspect” are part of a plan to “violate or evade any federal law.”
Sorkin then instructs banks and credit card companies to use a feature called “boxcar” that “allows retailers to tag transactions with extra data” such as the device used to make a purchase and the location of the buyer.”
Sorkin proposes that “If banks required retailers to transmit details on sales of guns and ammunition, they would be able to make more informed decisions about transactions.” All banks need do is to choose “to use the systems they already have in place . . . to monitor such customers” and prevent them “from buying multiple guns in a short period of time.”
Already, pro-gun controllers have succeeded in getting some businesses to restrict our Second Amendment rights:
- Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods announced they would not sell firearms to anyone under 21.
- Citibank and Bank of America said they would no longer finance or advise gun manufacturers.
- Investment firms like BlackRock and pension funds like Calpers, the retirement fund for public employees in California, said they would demand more information from the gunmakers they invested in.
- Several payment systems — including PayPal, Square and Apple Pay — already had established rules that ban the sale of guns and gun-related items using their systems.
But no bank thus far has instituted a ban or committed to tracking gun purchases because in October, Senator John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) introduced the No Red and Blue Banks Act, which would “prohibit the federal government from giving contracts to banks that discriminate against lawful businesses based solely on social policy considerations” such as gun control.
Sorkin also decries the American Civil Liberties Union for expressing concern that efforts to prevent mass shootings could infringe on individual rights.
Sorkin’s solution to banks and credit card companies refusing to monitor and ban gun purchases is government. Just as the legislators in 29 states ban consumers from using credit cards to buy lottery tickets (so that they won’t rack up debt gambling), so too can legislators ban Americans from using credit cards to buy guns.