Is the Government Creating Backdoor Gun Registries? By: Dave Dolbee

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Omar " Crispy 11B" Avila holding an AR-15 pistol with a stabilizing brace attached to his arm.

In 1986, the Firearm Owners Protection Act was passed. A key part of the legislation prohibited the federal government from centralizing (most) firearm records into a registry and tracking firearm ownership. Now, 35+ years later, banks and processors are doing what the federal government was intentionally prohibited from doing — tracking your firearm purchases.

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Last week, the International Organization for Standardization announced it was creating a new merchant category code (MCC) to track purchases from businesses that sell firearms and ammunition. If you have at least one credit card, you have likely received offers from the issuer offering cash back for gas, grocery, or dining purchases. They do this by using MCCs.

International Organization for Standardization logo
You may not know the ISO, but it knows you — and your purchase history, which it intends to share in a database with the government.

However, the decision to create an MCC for purchases of firearms and ammunition is unlikely to have been because the big banks want to give you cash-back incentives. In fact, the very same credit card companies and banks have targeted firearms retailers and manufacturers, refusing them loans and closing processing terminals and bank accounts due to their chosen industry.

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According to the International Organization for Standardization, the change is an effort to reduce gun violence.

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Its logic goes something like this…

According to an ABC News report:

The gunman in Aurora, Colorado, who killed 12 people in a mass shooting at a movie theater in 2012, legally acquired his firearms and ammunition using a credit card. The shooter in the 2016 Orlando, Florida, nightclub shootings legally purchased his firearm and ammunition using a credit card. In 2017, after the shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, that left 58 dead, police found the shooter’s credit cards on the countertop in the shooter’s hotel room.

Do you see how simple it is? Credit cards are the missing link to preventing gun violence! I mean, in Las Vegas the guy actually had credit cards — in his room. Not locked away or anything! He just left them unsecured…on a countertop!

I do not know what else to say. These people are among us and have the right to vote…

The move by the International Organization for Standardization and others was prompted by calls from gun reform advocates and lawmakers who want credit card companies and banks to track and report “unusual” purchase activity related to firearms and ammunition. I’m sorry, what is unusual?

If I bought 5,000 rounds of .22LR for a youth shooting camp, is that unusual? If I decided to buy the ammunition for myself because I got a deal, is that suspicious? Should I expect a SWAT team to come knocking at my door? Will the FBI’s HRT or the AFT raid my house because some knucklehead at a credit card company or bank sees a $500,000 firearm purchase (for a Single Action Army revolver that was once owned by Bob Dalton and was recovered on his body after being killed in the Coffeyville raid)?

Several containers of .22 LR ammunition
Just a box or would I have to but the whole Bucket O’ Bullets to earn being reported to the ATF as suspicious? And what government resources are going to be squandered over a legal ammunition purchase?

Okay, maybe that one is a bit farfetched and would be suspicious. There is no way I am likely to ever have that kind of money. However, my point is, what is the criteria to be considered suspicious? Dollar amount? Frequency? Political party affiliation? Race? Gender? The opinion of someone contracted from Silicon Valley or its artificial intelligence?

What’s next? Can we prevent the next drunk driving tragedy by tracking alcohol purchases using a credit card? What about reducing the divorce rate and children raised by single parents by tracking credit card transactions at wedding chapels in Las Vegas? While I believe you could get 100 out of 100 random people to agree those ideas are ludicrous, gun control advocates are trying to sell the American people on the idea that tracking credit card purchases of 100% legal transactions, from people who have passed an ATF background check, will reduce gun violence (so long as no one leaves their credit card unattended in a hotel room).

Newsflash! The government already knows when you purchase a firearm — with a credit card or cash! They have a form called a Firearms Transaction Record (Form 4473)! Being anti-gunners, I get that they have no clue that these magic pieces of paper exist, but come on… It’s called the internet, people!

More seriously, (now that I have had a chance to vent a little), the points I am making do have a purpose. The government already has the means to vet the purchaser of firearms, and the ammunition has little value without the firearm. Sooo… what is the purpose of the new MCC?

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The government already runs background checks. That is the Form 4473. However, the government is legally forbidden from saving the records of the 4473 checks. This prevents the government from creating ownership registries that could be used by the government against the citizenry later.

ATF Form 4473
After a background check, what information is the government gleaning to stop a crime? None. The author would submit this is nothing but a backdoor attempt at creating a database of gun owners.

The merchant codes create the list, by the International Organization for Standardization’s own words, for the government (law enforcement) to use. The transaction history gives the government the very database that the law specifically prohibits the government from creating. It does it under the guise of “magically” using legal transactions to prevent future unlawful acts, such as mass murder.

Am I the only one concerned? Sadly, this is not the only firearms registry in the works. The pending ATF ruling on pistol braces could have the same effect.

Amnesty or tax stamps for pistol brace owners?

On June 10, 2021, in the Federal Register, the ATF published the proposed rule, “Factoring Criteria for Firearms With Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces,’” 86 Fed. Reg. 30,826. The proposed rule provided for a 90-day public comment period, during which the agency received 211,564 comments. The agency has since processed the comments and is in the process of drafting the final ruling. This final ruling will include prepared rebuttal to the comments. The agency currently expects to publish a final rule in December 2022.

The ATF estimates that between 3 million and 7 million pistol braces were sold since 2012. The Congressional Research Service’s estimates range from 10 million to as high as 40 million braces were “either purchased as accessories or already attached to firearms that were made at home or the factory.”

SB Tactical AR Pistol Brace
How would a database full of Form 1 applications prevent a future tragedy?

The ATF previously ruled, and later affirmed, that the addition of a pistol brace did not constitute a classification as a short-barreled rifle (SBR). Now, after thousands, possibly millions, of gun owners have purchased and employed pistol braces, changes in the “politics” at the ATF are set to reverse the earlier rulings and reclassify the firearms as short-barreled rifles.

According to National Gun Trusts, there are several ways gun owners could achieve compliance:

  • Permanently remove or alter the “stabilizing brace” such that it cannot be reattached, thus converting the firearm back to its original pistol configuration (as long as it was originally configured without a stock and as a pistol) and thereby removing it from regulation as a “firearm” under the NFA. Exercising this option would mean the pistol would no longer be “equipped with” the stabilizing brace within the meaning of the proposed rule.
  • Remove the short barrel and attach a 16-inch or longer barrel to the firearm, thus removing it from the provisions of the NFA.
  • Destroy the firearm. The ATF will publish information regarding proper destruction on its website, www.atf.gov.
  • Surrender the firearm to your local ATF office.
  • Complete and submit an Application to Make and Register a Firearm, ATF Form 1 (“Form 1”). As part of the submission, the $200 tax stamp payment is required with the application. Pursuant to 27 CFR 479.102, the name, city, and state of the maker of the firearm must be properly marked on the firearm. All other markings, placed by the original manufacturer, should be adopted. Proof of submission of the Form 1 should be maintained by all possessors. Documentation establishing submission of Form 1 includes, but is not limited to, eForm submission acknowledgement, proof of payment, or copy of Form 1 submission with postmark documentation.

The new proposed ruling does present some additional problems for gun owners and the ATF. The first would be compliance and enforcement. Currently, electronic Form 1 submissions are taking 200+ days to be processed, and paper submissions are in the 400-day range. Consider that last year, the ATF received about 600,000 Form 1 applications. What would a deluge of 3 million (low estimate) additional applications do to the system? It could mean limbo for gun owners and a nightmare for the ATF.

There is also a rumor that the ATF may offer amnesty and grandfather units already in possession. However, the ATF would require the owners to register the details of the firearm, owner, etc. but forego the $200 fee and approval processing. This would again create a firearm registry of sorts. At a minimum, it would put a lot of gun owners into a database or make them criminals. New braces would be manufactured with a date code, similar to some polymer magazines, that would identify units manufactured and sold after the grandfather date.

Do you believe the new credit card codes and the new proposed rules regarding pistol braces are backdoor gun registries? Will 3 million Form 1 applications that would take months, likely years, to process reduce gun violence? Share your answers in the comment section.