What Is It The NRA Thinks We're Gonna Do With A National Gun Registry Anyway?
On Friday, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which as the New York Times explains "sets standards for payment transactions," announced the creation of a new merchant code for gun sales, to be used when processing credit or debit purchases of guns and ammo. While the purpose of this is to flag suspicious purchases in hopes of reducing mass shootings, it is worth noting that almost every category of business has a merchant code. There are merchant codes for clothing stores, salons, agricultural products, airlines, etc., so this is hardly some unprecedented thing.
What this means is that:
- Card networks like Mastercard and Visa need to not only adopt the code, but also enforce its use by merchants and payment processors.
- Merchants must start using the code, and not obfuscate transactions by using other classifications.
- Big retailers like Walmart and sporting goods stores — which themselves use different merchant codes — need to use the code at registers they use to ring up firearms.
- Most crucially, the payments industry needs to develop and refine software algorithms for identifying suspicious activity based on the merchant codes. [...] Banks could then either allow those transactions, or block them and file suspicious activity reports with the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which would ideally also create a system to quickly forward that information to local law enforcement and the F.B.I.
It's a good thing! Hell, the government tracks large purchases of certain fertilizers — like the kind Timothy McVeigh used to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City — and fertilizer actually has a use outside of killing or maiming people. Pharmacies are legally required to track purchases of pseudoephedrine because jerks were making crystal meth out of it, which is very awkward for those of us with chronic sinus issues.
Naturally the NRA and Second Amendment people are very upset about this, claiming that it could lead to ... a national gun registry!
"The ISO's decision to create a firearm specific code is nothing more than a capitulation to anti-gun politicians and activists bent on eroding the rights of law-abiding Americans one transaction at a time," NRA spokesman Lars Dalseide said in a statement Sunday, adding, "This is not about tracking or prevention or any virtuous motivation — it's about creating a national registry of gun owners."
It has clearly not occurred to Lars Dalseide that the issue people have with guns is the fact that they are used to kill people — and, may we note, don't have an alternate purpose, like helping grass grow or clearing up a sinus infection. If it's not that, then what does he think is behind this? That we just don't like gun owners as people and don't want them to be happy? We want to round them all up and put them in FEMA camps? We want to send them Christmas cards or sign them up for the Bed Bath & Beyond mailing list, inundating them with thousands of 20 percent off coupons they will never have with them when they end up at a Bed Bath & Beyond?
Probably what they really think is that this would make it easier for the government to get rid of the Second Amendment and then send jack-booted thugs to the homes of innocent responsible gun owners and take their guns away, so that they can institute tyranny for tyranny's sake and not have to worry about responsible gun owners overthrowing them.
Aside from how it is illegal to try to overthrow the government (as many January 6 participants have found out), it is rude to assume the rest of the country would want them to do that in the first place. I can comfortably say they are pretty much the last people I would trust to determine what "tyranny" is or be in charge of the government. Who's gonna be worse than them?
It's also worth pointing out that if we ever actually did have "tyranny," the kind of people who are mad about a standardized merchant code for gun sales would probably be very into it. After all, they did love them some Donald Trump. And what, exactly, is more tyrannical than forcing the entire country to constantly live through horrific mass shootings because your delusional ass might want to overthrow the government someday?
This nonsense also ignores the fact that there are already several states with some form of gun registry, and that this has, at no point, led to gun owners being rounded up and placed in FEMA camps.
Hawai'i has the most comprehensive gun registry and it's working pretty well. According to GVPedia, which describes itself as "a project created to provide ready access to academic research and high quality data on gun violence":
Hawai’i is the only state that requires all firearms to be registered and consistently has the lowest or second lowest gun death rate in the country. In a March 15, 2021 letter to GVPedia, Hawai’i Police Department Chief Paul K. Ferreira wrote, “In response to your inquiry about whether the firearms registration process in Hawai’i County has been used to solve crimes or has resulted in prosecutions, firearm ownership or transfer information can lead to evidence that is vital to the prosecution of a crime.
“Firearms checks are used on a daily basis to confirm ownership of firearms recovered during the execution of search warrants, of firearms routinely found in the possession of suspects who are wanted for crimes, and firearms located within vehicles during traffic stops. Having the ability to access a person’s firearms information prior to arriving at a domestic violence type call can provide vital information for threat assessment and officer safety. Being able to verify the ownership of a firearm or where it has been transferred to have led to multiple calls for service being solved to include burglaries, theft and violent crimes.”
Sadly, instituting a merchant code for gun purchases (which would not, in fact, provide an itemized list of what people actually bought at gun stores) would not produce these kinds of results, but it will certainly help. While law and order types cherish long prison sentences and the death penalty as a means of "deterring" crime, research shows that the biggest deterrence is actually "certainty of getting caught." If people worry that buying a massive stockpile of weapons is going to tip police off to the mass shooting they are planning, they might be a little more discouraged than they would be otherwise.
And you know what? We'll take it!
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse