The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin figured it out. Criminal misuse of firearms is the fault of none other than credit card companies. This idea would be laughable if it weren’t for the absurd assumptions Sorkin makes to achieve this radical agenda. We weren’t the only ones who thought so. Several news organizations and think tanks quickly jumped and called it an effort “to kill the Bill of Rights.”
Sorkin ran the column in the Old Gray Lady on Christmas Eve, which raises its’ own suspicions of how much faith the newspaper had in this column. After all, it’s Sorkin’s second attempt to force financial institutions to do the work of law enforcement and lawmakers. He wrote a similar column nearly a year ago. Since he didn’t get the attention he wanted then, he made a second attempt – on a holiday, when people should rightly be paying more attention to their faith and family instead of championing progressive ideals.
Sorkin believes that if credit card companies would just ban sales with their cards or at least commit to tracking gun purchases, it could mean the end of horrific murders that shake us all. Here’s the problem. The credit card companies have no interest in doing this. Daily Caller pointed out that Visa and MasterCard both held that monitoring and arbitrating the private purchases of their customers “sets a dangerous precedent.” Wells Fargo, according to Sorkin’s own reporting, stated gun regulation is the responsibility of the government, not corporations.
All of this might be a bridge too far, even for progressive government proponents. The oft-praised ACLU, which doesn’t come close to a gun-rights proponent organization, said the prospect of monitoring is an “enormously intrusive role in American life.”
Even Single Purchases Suspect
Sorkin’s not just talking multiple gun purchases to create a blip on the monitoring radar. Breitbart reporter AWR Hawkins picked up on that one too. He pointed out that one murderer highlighted by Sorkin purchased a single handgun with a credit card. That, he argues, should raise a red flag.
FrontPage’s Daniel Greenfield, an investigative journalist and Shillman Journalism Fellow at the think tank Freedom Center, points out that if Sorkin’s idea has merit, what’s to stop corporations from monitoring alcohol purchases to fight drunk driving or soda to tamp down obesity? Don’t worry, Greenfield doesn’t support it. In fact, he labels the entire scheme “a Bloombergian dystopian dream.”
National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson points out that under Sorkin’s strategy, which would call for the monitoring of the exercise of constitutionally-protected rights, even political speech could be monitored. “There is a sneaky totalitarian tendency among progressives, who look for vulnerable pressure points to exploit for political ends,” he wrote. He added that disagreements, even with corporate entities, are treated as “fraud” and if the rights can’t be eradicated, then the means by which those rights are achieved must be regulated away.
If Not Banks, Then Who?
What Sorkin ignores is that in many of these instances of these tragic crimes, there were family members who were pleading with law enforcement and government agencies to intervene. The murderer in Parkland, Fla., was reported to federal, county and school authorities multiple times through tipsters. The Air Force failed on several instances to enforce the law that would have prevented the Sutherland Springs murderer from purchasing firearms. The murderer at the Pulse nightclub was monitored by the FBI under the terror watchlist, but maybe Sorkin missed that report published by his own newspaper.
Here’s what Sorkin wants. He’d rather institute progressive policies that subvert the actual rule of law by delegating accountability and the functions of those policies to nameless and faceless corporate entities. These corporations, of course, are unaccountable to voters or the American public and what can’t be done legislatively because if the pesky Bill of Rights and lawmakers who respect the rule of law would be done through corporate advocacy – privacy be damned.
What shouldn’t be lost in all of this is that Sorkin likens the purchase of firearms to fraud or any other criminal activity. You are automatically suspect and must be reported and monitored if you dare to exercise your right to bear arms. The real goal isn’t to bar or regulate gun purchases by credit cards. It’s to ban gun sales – period.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.