Banks, credit card companies, and retailers have unique insight into the purchasing patterns that can help prevent mass shootings.
I have to admit that I am a weenie when it comes to guns. I don’t like them in the hands of many people, but believe our military should have the best equipment and that law enforcement should receive whatever support required. I’ve shot a gun twice: once in Boy Scout Camp almost 50 years ago, and once at a corporate event in the Arizona desert. Neither time impressed me; I would rather take apart a computer or work in the garden.
Today’s read comes from the New American, and with the title of “Backdoor Attack on Second Amendment Through Credit Cards,” you can guess where this is going.
Legislation in the House of Representatives, H.R. 4132, sponsored by Jennifer Wexton (D-Va), will require card companies to be a part of the fight on crime.
Banks, credit card companies, and retailers have a unique insight into the behavior and purchasing patterns that can help identify and prevent mass shootings. We know that financial intelligence can be an effective tool to combat gun violence in the same way it is for money laundering, human smuggling, and fentanyl trafficking.
Financial institutions have a legal obligation under the Bank Secrecy Act to have programs in place to detect and report suspicious financial activity, but they have to know what they are looking for, and FinCEN [the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network] can be a valuable partner. The red flags are there — someone needs to be paying attention.
Well, card companies are great at tracking purchases. The payment system requires every transaction to be irrefutable. If someone disputes a payment, as it happens 25 million times a year with 66 billion transactions in the U.S., there is a clerk or a computer out there to scrutinize the transaction.
With Merchant Category codes for each purchase, it would be a breeze for credit card issuers to identify gun and weapon purchases. However, this paper finds it offensive and challenges the Representative.
Her voting record in the House has earned her a rating of just 12 out of 100 in the Freedom Index — a measure of how closely her voting record hews to the limits of the U.S. Constitution, published by The John Birch Society.
And the downside claim is:
That leaves law-abiding gun owners as the primary target. And financial institutions such as banks and credit card companies would more than likely spread a wide net around anyone using credit to purchase firearms, to be sure they don’t fall afoul of the feds’ new requirements if Wexton’s bill becomes law. Translation: Any gun owner making a purchase sufficiently large to arouse the suspicions of anonymous bureaucrats lurking in the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) will be targeted.
The report also cites how Suspicious Activity Reports might violate the Fourth Amendment. Jeez, Suspicious Activity Reports (awful name, though) report cash transactions over $10,000. They are great for catching crooks. If you have clean money, who cares what gets reported?
Since September 2012, FinCEN regularly generates four reports that offend the Fourth Amendment, including its “Suspicious Activity Report.” FinCEN shares that information with dozens of intelligence agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the IRS.
Payment cards are great to document spending. I rarely use cash and find that when I do, I cannot account for my spending. With a credit card in hand, all I have to do is go to the issuer’s site and I don’t miss a penny.
As for controlling weapons, this is not a bad idea, but the real worry is what to do about cash transactions and guns. There is no line of sight in that world.
Overview by Brian Riley, Director, Credit Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group