In the left corner of every dollar bill is the phrase, “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.”
If Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke has his way, it might be amended with an asterisk.
*except if you’re trying to use it to pay for guns with a credit card
O’Rourke, who grandstanded on the Democratic presidential debate stage to announce an unequivocal promise to confiscate every lawfully owned AR-15 or AK-47, took his gun control schemes to another level. He suggested that credit card companies refuse to honor sales for so-called “assault weapons.”
Specifically, he wants to cut off modern sporting rifle sales, for online and gun show sale without a background check and stop doing business with manufacturers of modern sporting rifles and the ammunition that feeds them. Of course, he seems to be ignorant of the fact that MSRs come in a variety of calibers from 22 rimfire for target shooting to larger calibers for big game hunting. He’s, therefore, seeking to ban the credit card purchase of a broad range of calibers, but I digress.
In fact, O’Rourke said these companies “profit off of terrorizing communities,” adding “It’s time for them to step up now and stop the easy flow of assault weapons to terrorists.” I guess he also thinks Budweiser is terrorizing communities and profiting off drunk driving?
At Least Be Original
For all of O’Rourke’s wild gesticulations, his ideas are, well, unoriginal. What he’s essentially asking for is Operation Choke Point 2.0, the Obama administration’s direction to financial institutions to discriminate against businesses in the firearms industry. Lending institutions were nudged by the government to label firearms businesses as “high risk” or as a “reputational risk” for the financial institution and be cut off from banking services. Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) authored the legislation, H.R. 189, the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act, that is pending in Congress and would put an end to this government overreach. He’s long been at this to end these attacks on the firearms industry.
The credit card scheme was the idea proposed by the New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin in 2018 and 2017. Sorkin explained he wants credit card companies to track purchases and turn that information over to the government, just in case someone is planning a crime. Buy a gun with a credit card. Got it. Buy another. They’re watching. Buy ammunition with that credit card, it could be a pattern and that information, according to Sorkin, should flag you to authorities.
O’Rourke should have done a little research because he would have found out what Sorkin learned in the wake of his publication of the wild gun control arrangements. The Daily Caller reported at the time both Visa and Mastercard had no interest and such an idea “sets a dangerous precedent.” Wells Fargo, a major banking institution, according to Sorkin’s own reporting, stated gun regulation is the responsibility of the government, not corporations.
Even the ACLU, hardly a gun-rights proponent, panned the idea as “enormously intrusive role in American life.”
Congress Could Stop This Nonsense
In fact, this is the very reason why Congress needs to take up the Freedom Financing Act, H.R. 2079 by U.S. Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas) and S. 821 by U.S. Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and John Kennedy (R-La.). This legislation would work to end the discriminatory lending practices of major banking institutions that seek to circumvent the legislative process and set social policy from the boardroom. These measures would prevent financial institutions from accessing taxpayer-subsidized government programs when they are at the same time denying banking services to lawful and compliant industries.
Here’s how it would work. Banking institutions with more than $10 million in assets that choose to discriminate against firearms business can, they just lose access to taxpayer-funded protections. That includes Federal Reserve Discount Window Lending Programs, Federal Deposit Insurance Company and Automated Clearing House Network.
It’s time those attempting to convince us to vote them into office promise to use the power of government to protect freedoms and not use that authority as a cudgel against the firearms industry.
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.