Banks Are Devising Ways to Track Gun Owners

Banks are developing technology “to identify potential mass shooters”, according to a CEO backing the push to get credit-card companies to more closely track gun purchases. 

“Detection scenarios” are in the works that, if triggered, would prompt banks to file a Suspicious Activity Report to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Amalgamated Bank Chief Executive Officer Priscilla Sims Brown said at the New York Times DealBook conference Wednesday.

The strategy would mirror ways banks try to identify and stop fraudsters from using customers’ funds. 

The International Organization for Standardization approved a new merchant category code earlier this year that banks will use when processing transactions for gun and ammunition stores after Amalgamated submitted an application on the matter. Gun-control advocates were quick to celebrate the move, arguing it would help banks flag suspicious activity at these retailers. -Bloomberg

Priscilla Sims Brown leads the country’s largest union-owned bank, she’s also led an initiative to create a new merchant code for stand-alone gun stores, recently adopted by Visa, Mastercard, American Express and more. The code gives these companies a way to distinguish gun purchases from other sporting goods purchases — and flag large purchases of weapons and ammunition. 

Banks have come under pressure from Congressional Republicans over what they plan to do with the tracking codes, with conservative policymakers expressing concern that lenders will use the data to create unofficial lists of gun owners in the US.