Over the past year, author Andrew Ross Sorkin has written multiple pieces encouraging financial institutions to “control gun sales” if Washington is unable to enact laws. This is not possible under the current system, because payment companies by design do not track specifically what customers purchase. For example, if a customer is checking out at the sporting-goods store Cabela’s, which sells firearms and thousands of other outdoor products, the payment company simply knows the customer shopped there and the total cost of the items. Without specifically monitoring individual items purchased, payment companies are protecting the privacy of their customers and potential regulatory and legal liability. Banks and credit unions operate in a similar manner that prevents them from knowing what their customers purchase.
To address this problem, Sorkin wants credit-card companies to create a new “subcode” specifically to track firearm and ammunition sales. Sorkin believes that these “subcodes” could be enforced through financial institutions’ “best practices” rules, which companies must abide by when doing business with the institution, and which can be changed at the whim of the institution. Ultimately, that could force those in the firearms community to terminate the production or distribution of completely legal firearms and accessories or risk dissolving their relationship with their institution.