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Bank of America Wants to Track Gun Owners

Bank of America Wants to Track Gun Owners

After Bank of America announced it will no longer finance manufacturers that make “firearms with military characteristics … for non-law enforcement, non-military use,” The Wall Street Journal reported that bank and credit-card companies are talking about a lot more than refusing to do business with certain gun manufacturers.

“Banks and credit-card companies are discussing ways to identify purchases of guns in their payment systems,” said the Journal.

Thanks in part to NRA lobbying, federal laws exist that strictly limit government use of electronic databases of gun sales or of gun owners. This, of course, doesn’t preclude private companies from trying to create such lists. These lists could then be subpoenaed or simply provided to government for various purposes.

To do so, the Journal says “financial companies have explored creating a new credit-card code for firearms dealers, similar to how they code restaurants, or department stores.” 

This is something that many mainstream media outlets are rooting for. The Los Angeles Times, for example, ran an opinion piece saying, “It’s too early to say for sure, but it could be that the free market will wind up doing what Congress refuses to do: tighten access to firearms and stand up to companies that make and sell assault-style weapons.”

Perhaps in response to this media pressure, Bank of America and Citigroup Inc. announced they will no longer do business with manufacturers that make modern sporting rifles.

Bank of America’s vice chairman, Anne Finucane, announced: “[W]e have indicated it is our intent that we will not finance the manufacture of this type of firearm for non-law enforcement, non-military use. We want to understand what those clients are doing to end mass shootings, and what we can do to help them.”

Bank of America and Citigroup made their moves after a few retailers, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, said they would stop selling these popular and commonly owned semi-automatic rifles.

In response, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) tossed out Dick’s Sporting Goods and gun makers have begun announcing they’re parting ways with Dick’s. As this was being written Mossberg, Hi-Point and Springfield Armory were the latest gun makers to say they will no longer sell firearms at Dick’s.

Still, it’s one thing for private companies to make decisions about who it wants to do business with and quite another for banks and credit-card companies to get together to quietly create a database of gun owners.

The decision for banks, retailers and possibly credit-card companies not to do business with manufacturers that make modern sporting rifles is something consumers and companies can adjust to in a free marketplace. If someone doesn’t like Bank of America’s decision they can take their business to another bank. But if consumers are secretly being monitored to see if they are utilizing their Second Amendment rights, they likely won’t have such recourse.

Meanwhile, much of the public isn’t being told the truth about modern sporting rifles. Bank of America says it will cut ties with gun manufacturers that make “firearms with military characteristics … for non-law enforcement, non-military use.” The thing is, across American history the U.S. military has used, and in many cases still uses, every type of firearm now used by private American citizens. This includes bolt-action rifles, pump-action shotguns and semi-automatic designs.

In American history it has never been possible to completely separate what private citizens use and own and what our military and police departments use. That’s a good thing, as much of firearm development that has helped our armed forces has come from manufacturers innovating to compete in the U.S. consumer market.

Greg Stube, a former Special Forces sergeant who fought in Afghanistan and is now the author of Conquer Anything—A Green Beret’s Guide to Building Your A-Team, put this American relationship best when he told me, “In my experience, a lot of training time in the Special Forces is used to teach those who don’t have gun experience. To put it plainly: The Special Forces are in the business of creating country boys. I saw again and again in training and on the battlefield that soldiers who grew up hunting and shooting recreationally are better soldiers. This is especially true when they used a firearm platform similar to what they use in combat. If our free citizens are barred from using firearms similar to those used by the military then we won’t be as prepared as a nation.”

Bank of America, Citigroup and other companies that are making such decisions don’t understand the true nature of our freedom.

They don’t even know the basic facts. The semi-automatic rifle designs Bank of America are specifically referring to have been made for and sold to civilians for more than a half century. Colt began selling the semi-automatic AR-15 to civilians in 1963, the same year it started selling the M16 to the U.S. military.

Also, the semi-automatic design isn’t even a 20th-century technology. It dates back to the late 19th century. In the very early 20th century Remington Arms, Winchester and many other manufacturers were selling semi-automatic rifles to Americans.

Semi-automatic designs are commonly owned—they’re actually the most popular firearm type sold—and therefore are protected by the Second Amendment, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And these semi-automatic rifle designs aren’t even used in very many crimes. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting, year after year, shows that rifles of all types are used in less that 3 percent of murders. The FBI doesn’t keep break these statistics up to tell us what percentage of this 3 percent are from modern sporting rifles, but they certainly account for an even smaller percentage of all crime.

For freedom to prevail we need to know which corporations are working to curtail our liberty. This is why any secret collaboration between big banks and credit-card companies to track gun sales is particularly worrisome.