Bank CEO Peddles Mass Suspicion on Gun Rights at NY Times Conference

By Larry Keane

A New York Times conference featured a bank CEO pushing the financial industry to track Americans making purchases at retailers and monitor their “suspicious activity” under the guise of “reducing gun violence.”

Amalgamated Bank CEO Priscilla Sims Brown was the special guest at the Times’ DealBook confab and was interviewed by Andrew Ross Sorkin. He’s the Times’ columnist who previously proposed the gun buying monitoring scheme and spelled out the “next steps” in a column highlighting Sims Brown’s efforts after an international financial standards board adopted her petition to create the tracking codes.

Putting even a little thought to the idea reveals the serious flaws of the plan. Implementing the enormous system to track the private financial transactions will create a myriad of privacy and civil liberty concerns and no doubt is ripe for abuse. 

Gun Control Dragnet

Sims Brown lobbied the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to create a gun-related Merchant Category Code (MCC) for credit and debit card companies to use to track cardholders’ purchases of firearms and ammunition. The ISO adopted the proposal and banks are beginning to use them. Listening to Sims Brown forecast what’s ahead, her true gun control aim is revealed. It’s a dragnet for law-abiding Americans.

“We’re at the very early stages of this –,” Sims Brown told Sorkin and the audience. “But as this is implemented, those scenarios will be used.”

By “those scenarios,” she means “detection scenarios” in which a particular purchase prompts a bank to file a Suspicious Activity Report to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Here’s how the MCC tracking will reportedly work. Purchases made at retailers selling firearms or ammunition would be assigned the new code for purchases. The MCC won’t identify what is in the customer’s basket, so it could be a total purchase for a firearm and several boxes of ammunition. It could also include a new tent, sleeping bag, propane stove, waders, decoys, blinds and other outdoor gear. The total cost could be flagged as “suspicious” since it might be an outlier on a customer’s purchase history. That doesn’t make it nefarious, though. 

Media reported the proposal won’t have its intended effect. “The payment network and its banking partners would have no idea if a gun-store customer is purchasing an automatic rifle or safety equipment,” Bloomberg News reported. Banks aren’t saying what purchases would be “suspicious.”

Just a Steppingstone

The MCC scheme has caught the attention of Congressional gun control politicians. Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 5764, by Reps. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) and Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) and in the U.S. Senate, S. 3117, by Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). That legislation, The Gun Violence Prevention Through Financial Intelligence Act, would provide banking institutions the cover they need to track purchases by requiring the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to provide “guidance” needed to institute the MCC. 

“Financial institutions have a legal obligation… to have programs in place to help detect and report suspicious activity, but they have to know what they are looking for,” Rep. Wexton said.

Rep. Dean has praised the back door gun control effort, too. “Financial institutions already have proven systems in place to identify suspicious behavior and purchasing patterns,” she wrote in a release.

Still no one has offered what “suspicious behavior” or “purchasing patterns” would be flagged. The questions are endless, answers few and the threat to Constitutional rights high.

Trudging Ahead. Trampling Rights.

Sorkin hypes his work in getting the MCC code established. He told the Dealbook audience, “This is an emotional topic for me in many ways… because back in 2018 I started writing about the role of guns in our society… and the role of credit card companies and banks in financing mass shootings.”

Sorkin stated his belief that lawful firearm retail businesses and the already-highly regulated Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) which provide for the legal exercise of the Second Amendment should do their part to create the backdoor database of gun buyers – something Congress is prohibited by law from doing on their own.

“Merchants must start using the code, and not obfuscate transactions by using other classifications,” Sorkin wrote. “Most crucially, the payments industry needs to develop and refine software algorithms for identifying suspicious activity…”

There are those words again – “suspicious activity.”

The suspicion is better reserved for those who would compile lists of Americans lawfully exercising their Constitutional Second Amendment rights. The right to keep and bear arms begins with the ability to make a purchase at the retail counter. Financial industry power players, though, are twisting their roles to facilitate legal transactions into social credit scores that put Americans on secret watch lists.

The financial industry doesn’t need to be suspicious of gun buyers who already are subject to FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verifications. This move, though, is reason enough for Americans to be suspicious of “woke” banking CEOs doing the bidding of gun control politicians.

Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.

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  • ToThePoint December 18, 2022, 5:57 pm

    Why does not Priscilla Sims Brown look like a Racist to the Civil Rights groups posturing out there in the media? Legislate immunity for Financial Institutions. Track and Report individual spending habits. Allow politicians the ability to force The People to think and act against their (the peoples) best interests. Sounds like a Totalitarian Govt. according to high school Civics class. Oh Sorry… Pre 2000 high school civics. They don’t teach anything now days other than inclusiveness, transgenderism, and critical race theory. Never mind the Constitution. Apparently thats old school now.

  • Dutch December 16, 2022, 6:31 pm

    This bitch needs to be locked up, indefinitely.

  • Andy December 16, 2022, 1:04 pm

    Isn’t another way to increase their bottom line, to justify increasing cost to the consumer? Who or what would the information be supplied too? Banks should worry about the money and our the consumers willingness to continue to use them.

  • Dr. Manarii Tane December 16, 2022, 7:40 am

    Open your eyes. You are missing the real reason. Most people are missing the actual reason politicians are trying the disarm us. There is an undeniable correlation between disarmed populations and widespread abuses of human rights. Consider any contemporary nation state with an ugly human rights record and you will also find a disarmed populace. Gun control leads to human rights abuses and enables them. Gun rights are a vaccine against human rights abuses from politicians. A gun is a mechanical way to level the playing field against a violent political threat with superior strength and numbers. As a history teacher with 35 years of teaching experience I know that the first thing revolutionaries and political tyrants do upon seizing power is to take away the public’s guns. History has taught us that when the people are disarmed, they are subjugated, enslaved to tyranny and totalitarianism. Arguments for self-defense fall on deaf politician’s ears. They do not care. The politician is after the ultimate control of the population – your life, your family, your religion, your money, your home, your food, your water, every aspect of your life. Most citizens had the “covid economic impact payment” deposited directly into their bank account – they can just as easily remove funds from your account. Just look to North Korea to see the future of the United States. Just use your head and picture the trend. Elected officials must encourage more law-abiding citizens to bear arms for personal protection and publicize lawful instances of self-defense to remind criminals that they are likely to meet armed resistance, and possible death, when they prey upon the innocent tax-paying American citizens.

  • bobsyouruncle December 15, 2022, 1:04 pm

    In 2012 we lost our home in a wildfire along with 250 others, afterwards we had our truck and the clothes we were wearing, we needed everything, I used the credit card for fuel, food, clothing, tools, materials, one of my first purchases was a 22 cal. pistol and 500 rds of 22lr I used it to kill 3 rabid skunks, a couple weeks after that we started seeing a large black bear around our place and I bought a 44 mag revolver with the credit card to replace the one lost in the fire, a couple of months after I bought a rifle caliber pistol and 500 rds of 223, shortly after our account was placed on hold, when I contacted the cc company to find out what the problem was I was informed they didn’t like the way I was using the cards and it appeared I was living off the cards. I explained about the fire but they left the cards locked down, we received no help of any kind from anyone , government, banking, no one.

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