For years, supporters of the Second Amendment have fought the creation of any federal database that tracks firearm ownership, rightfully arguing that any such database is an infringement of privacy and precursor to gun confiscation. Thus far, it’s a fight that they have been able to win.
Now, though, the private sector is bypassing the federal government and taking the creation of such a database into their own hands. This time around, stopping the existence of a firearm database could prove to be much more difficult.
Numerous banks and credit card companies have come together to discuss ways that they could identify when a person purchases a firearm using one of their payment systems. According to people familiar with the talks, the end goal of any such technology that allows them to identify firearm purchases would be to create a database of firearm owners and potentially restrict the purchase of firearms using their payment systems.
The issues with such a system not only highlights yet another threat that gun rights advocates must face but also highlight a second controversy that has been getting plenty of attention in the media as of late – how companies use customer data.
“There’s a privacy angle here,” Adam Levitin – a law professor at Georgetown University said, “There’s the slippery slope danger if it’s guns today maybe it is pornography tomorrow and the day after it’s right-wing literature.”
This marks the second time since the Parkland shooting that private companies have attempted to take gun control into their own hands. After a national discussion about whether the minimum age to buy a rifle should be raised to 21, both Wal-Mart and Dicks Sporting Goods decided not to wait on the legislative process to raise the minimum age and instead released statements saying that their new policy would be not to sell firearms of any type to anyone under the age of 21. This issue raises a few legal concerns in regards to age discrimination but is still not nearly as concerning as the move by banks and credit card companies to create a gun ownership database.
Still, not every financial institution is on board with the idea. At the bank’s recent annual meeting, Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan said, “We don’t think it’s a good idea for banks to decide what products and services Americans can buy. It should not be up to me, to us, to decide that. It should be up to folks following the laws and folks making decisions.”
Michael Corbat – the CEO of Citigroup – however, took a different approach, saying that the policy “is intended to preserve the rights of responsible gun owners like myself, while relying on best sales practices to keep firearms out of the wrong hands.”
As much as the banks and credit card companies pushing the policy try to paint it in a positive light, the dangers that it presents are very real and very considerable. Supporters of the Second Amendment have long known that the first step to gun confiscation is a national database of gun ownership, which is why they have fought so hard to keep the federal government from creating any such database.
Now, though, private companies – acting outside of any legislative process – are on the verge of creating this database on their own, and aside from boycotts and pressure from their customer base, there is very little that can be done to stop them.
Insiders familiar with the discussions surrounding these policies have also made it very clear that the technology used to identify and monitor firearm transactions may one day be used to block firearm transactions entirely. Of course, even if it did come to this, there’s nothing stopping a person from withdrawing cash from their financial institution in order to purchase a firearm. Nevertheless, the potential for banks and credit card companies to block firearm purchases still presents yet another threat to Second Amendment rights.
Hopefully, pressure from their customer base will keep these banks and credit card companies from following through with their ill-thought-out plans. However, even if these policies are not enacted, gun rights advocates must still come to face the reality that we now live in a world where threats to the Second Amendment can come from both the government and private sector alike.
~ American Gun News