It appears that the gun control lobby is still attempting to find new and creative ways to promote their anti-Second Amendment agenda. The New York Times recently published a piece outlining a potential tactic that is purportedly designed to prevent potential mass shooters from obtaining guns.
But a closer look reveals that their latest suggestion would not only be ineffective, it would also violate the right to privacy. Judging by the reaction of several others in the establishment media, it seems that progressives are willing to sacrifice privacy rights in favor of a solution that will do nothing to save the lives of mass shooting victims.
Surveilling Firearm Purchases
The New York Times article, penned by Andrew Ross Sorkin, recommended that the authorities surveil individuals who purchase firearms using a credit card. Sorkin points out that a significant number of mass shooters paid for their weapons and ammo with credit cards. The assumption is that monitoring these transactions could enable law enforcement to identify potential killers before they commit a violent act.
“…sets a dangerous precedent.”
He also suggested that banks monitor transactions at sporting goods stores and gun shops and prohibit consumers from buying multiple guns “in a short period of time.” Additionally, Sorkin argues that financial institutions should report uncommon spending patterns.
This is not the first time this writer has urged financial institutions to take more action against firearm sellers. Earlier this year, he suggested that banks impose their own form of gun control by refusing to conduct business with companies that sell assault weapons.
Will This Work?
Not everyone is open to Sorkin’s recommendations, and some of the financial institutions have pushed back against the proposal. Both Visa and Mastercard have stated that ferreting out potential mass shooters is the job of the government, not a private company. Amanda Pires, a Visa spokesperson, told The New York Times that “Asking Visa or other payment networks to arbitrate what legal goods can be purchased sets a dangerous precedent.”
There are some other issues with banks taking part in the activities suggested by the author. First, it’s important to recognize that there are no guidelines determining what would constitute atypical gun purchases. How many firearms should a law-abiding citizen be allowed to buy before raising red flags? How about ammo? What timeframe would be appropriate between purchases?
Then, there is also the obvious problem: If potential mass shooters know that banks will be monitoring their purchases, they can simply use cash or find other ways of paying for the weapon. While gun control advocates like Sorkin think these methods will save lives, others believe that they amount to nothing more than an egregious invasion of privacy that will not protect anyone. Indeed, it would give companies like Visa and Mastercard the means by which they could collaborate with the government to surveil its citizens.
Americans on both the left and the right wish to create real solutions that will protect innocent people from bad actors. But while the nation is looking for answers, it is essential that our rights are not being violated — especially if it will not reduce mass shooting deaths. There are plenty of other tactics that can be employed in a way that is effective. It is usually a bad idea to sacrifice freedom for security, but it is far worse to give up rights to embrace solutions that don’t actually make anyone safer.