Bank of America Gave “Weapon-Related” Purchase Data Over to the Feds

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A recent Fox News report revealed that Bank of America has been secretly turning over ‘weapons-related’ purchase data to the feds. IMG NRA-ILA

U.S.A. -(AmmoLand.com)- According to a recent Fox News report, Bank of America secretly turned over hundreds of its customers’ personal data to the federal government following the unrest at the Capitol on January 6. The targeted customers included those who made purchases at “weapons-related merchants” in early January. The report suggested that the nation’s second-largest bank turned the private information over voluntarily rather than in response to a subpoena. Bank of America’s willing collaboration with federal law enforcement at the expense of its customers highlights the broad threat posed by those that would commandeer ostensibly private banks and payment processors to undermine Second Amendment rights.

According to Fox, at the behest of federal investigators, Bank of America swept its transaction records for individuals who met the following criteria:

1. Customers confirmed as transacting, either through bank account debit card or credit card purchases in Washington, D.C. between 1/5 and 1/6.

2. Purchases made for Hotel/Airbnb RSVPs in DC, VA, and MD after 1/6.

3. Any purchase of weapons or at a weapons-related merchant between 1/7 and their upcoming suspected stay in D.C. area around Inauguration Day.

4. Airline-related purchases since 1/6.

This resulted in the identification of 211 Bank of America customers, whose data was then turned over to the federal government without their knowledge. Fox News noted that at least one of the identified individuals was subsequently interviewed by federal authorities and cleared of any wrongdoing.

This gross abuse of trust reveals how financial service companies collaborating with federal law enforcement can erode gun owners’ rights and statutory protections preventing the federal government’s retention of gun owner data.

Federal law explicitly prohibits the federal government from compiling certain data on gun owners. The Firearms Owners’ Protection Act of 1986 amended the Gun Control Act to protect gun owners from the threat of registration. The legislation added language stating,

No such rule or regulation prescribed after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or dispositions be established.

The Brady Act of 1993, which provided for the establishment of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, made clear the NICS cannot be used to create a firearms registry. The language states that the NICS must “destroy all records of the system with respect to the call (other than the identifying number and the date the number was assigned) and all records of the system relating to the person or the transfer.” Further, the Brady Act prohibited any “department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States” from requiring any record generated by the NICS to be retained or to use the system to establish a firearms registry.

The federal government deputizing willing banks to compile and hand over information on law-abiding gun owners that is comparable to data they would be prohibited from compiling themselves is a direct attack on the privacy that these statutory protections were intended to preserve.

This isn’t the first time the federal government has used the acquiescent banking sector to push outcomes gun control advocates could not achieve through legitimate means.

In 2013 the Justice Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation initiated Operation Choke Point, which sought to deter banks from conducting business with companies that engaged in commerce that the Obama administration viewed as undesirable. To do this, the Obama administration categorized certain types of businesses as being “associated with high-risk activity” in a banking guidance document used by the FDIC. Some of the types of businesses targeted by the operation were engaged in illegal or fraudulent activity, like “On-line Gambling” or “Ponzi Schemes.” However, the operation also targeted legal businesses that engaged in lawful commerce such as “Tobacco Sales,” “Coin Dealers,” “Ammunition Sales,” and “Firearms Sales.”

The Trump administration put an end to the federal government’s organized financial harassment campaign in 2017. However, some lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), have continued to bully banks in an attempt to force them to cut ties with the firearms industry.

This continued assault prompted NRA to support a Trump-era rule from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) aimed at ending politically-motivated discrimination in the provision of financial services. Exposing their zeal for political discrimination in banking, on January 28 the Biden administration put a hold on this vital measure.

Moreover, gun control advocates have tried to directly commandeer banks and payment processors in an attempt to attack gun owners.

On December 24, 2019 the gun confiscation supporters at the New York Times ran a thinly-veiled advocacy piece by Andrew Ross Sorkin in the news section, titled, “Devastating Arsenals, Bought With Plastic and Nary a Red Flag.” According to Sorkin, banks and other financial services companies are “uniquely positioned” to monitor gun owner purchasing habits. Under Sorkin’s preferred scenario, credit card companies would require retailers to tag firearms-related purchases with additional data that could be used by the credit card companies to compile information on gun owners. The surveillance data could then be used to flag suspicious purchases for law enforcement.

On April 30, 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that “[b]anks and credit-card companies are discussing ways to identify purchases of guns in their payment systems.” Elaborating, the paper explained,

The financial companies have explored creating a new credit-card code for firearms dealers, similar to how they code restaurants or department stores, according to people familiar with the matter. Another idea would require merchants to share information about specific firearm products consumers are buying, some of the people said. 

Such data could allow banks to restrict purchases at certain businesses or monitor them.

More recently, Moms Demand Action Founder Shannon Watts encouraged the payment processing industry to restrict what gun owners can buy. According to Watts, credit card companies should refuse to process payments for certain firearms parts –  preventing law-abiding gun owners from purchasing lawful products.

Given Bank of America and federal law enforcement’s recent conduct, it would be reasonable for gun owners to assume that the federal government would have unfettered access to any data collected under gun controllers’ proposed banking and payment processing schemes.

NRA-ILA has been at the forefront of confronting governmental and private efforts to attack gun owners and the gun industry through banking and payment processing. NRA-ILA will continue to work with our friends in Congress, including members of the Senate Banking Committee, to ensure that gun-owners and the gun industry have access to financial services free from privacy abuses and political retribution.


About NRA-ILA:

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the “lobbying” arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess, and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Visit: www.nra.org

National Rifle Association Institute For Legislative Action (NRA-ILA)

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Get Out
Get Out
6 days ago

BofA should be asked if it was legal to share any of that information under Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999? If not a pro-gun group should go after them and let the courts punish them for their indiscretion.
FDIC: Your Rights to Financial Privacy

Oldvet
Oldvet
8 days ago

Going to the ATM getting cash to make your purchase would prevent the boa from knowing what you were purchasing would it not ?

Ansel Hazen
Ansel Hazen
7 days ago
Reply to  Oldvet

Do it for everything. Banks make their money off the transaction. You can screw them all by walking over to the atm and getting cash for your purchase. That little mom and pop store will thank you for not adding that fee to their profit line too. My bank rebates me the out of network atm fee so I do this every chance I get.

Mparmory
Mparmory
8 days ago

My shop only accepts Cash, Money Orders, bullion, and privacy coins (i.e. Monero). American complacency will likely mean that our government will outlaw all of the above, but at least I can say I’ve tried. My refusal to accept credit cards has led to snarky remarks from some potential customers, and I don’t care. Go to an atm and get a cash advance if you really want to buy a product with money you don’t have. Heck, I’ll show you how to buy crypto from your phone.

Arny
Arny
8 days ago
Reply to  Mparmory

I don’t trust crypto. Another Govt tool to trace. Being used to crash the dollar. No proof how it originated for one (my personal theory is Raven Rock). First time so far I could find the term crypto currency was from a 90s article from Raven Rock. And 4 crypto miners in China own over 50% of BTC. China has to much influence on bitcoin & other cryptos. Look back when they wanted to regulate. Who controls the essentials (internet, electricity) to use cryptos ? Texas should be a eye opener. Cryptos IMO just another form of stock market. I… Read more »

Stripeseven
Stripeseven
8 days ago

Collaborators…..plain and simple.

SHAWN
SHAWN
8 days ago

Thank God that I no longer have a account with Bank of America. This action against gun owners who have an account with Bank of America brought nothing but shame.

phillyd
phillyd
8 days ago

The Bank of America turned Left a few years ago. I would strongly encourage anyone not to deal with this bank. If you have accounts with them, close them. Bank of America is a disgrace to the memory of its founder, Mr. Giannini.

GomeznSA
GomeznSA
8 days ago
Reply to  phillyd

phil – they were at the very least pointed left for a good long time. This latest illegal action by them makes me very glad I closed my long standing accounts with them a couple of years ago when one of their veeps started some anti-gun policies. Overall they hadn’t gotten quite bad enough to go thru the hassle of changing to another financial outlet but enough was finally enough. Seems like they are now going full speed ahead to alienate their customers.

swmft
swmft
8 days ago

we need to start a second amendment bank

Montana454Casull
Montana454Casull
8 days ago

Money orders and cash eliminates the corrupt banking industry from giving your private information to anyone . I quit using credit cards 15 years ago for anything as I don’t trust them not to release or sell my purchase information .

ChootEm
ChootEm
8 days ago

I kicked BoA to the curb a long time ago. Same outfit tried charging me interest on a credit balance, then wanted to “fee me” for cutting me a check for that credit balance. Nope…homey don’t play that.

Red Falcon 1325
Red Falcon 1325
8 days ago

I haven’t used BoA since I was stationed in Germany years ago, but if they turned over personal information without a warrant, I would think that would leave them wide open for law suits by the thousands.

TStheDeplorable
TStheDeplorable
8 days ago

As if people needed another reason not to bank at Bank of America. The patriot founder of that bank would cry to see what it became.

Cruiser
Cruiser
8 days ago

They need us more than we need them. “They’re not the only game in town.”

Buster
Buster
9 days ago

We can still use money orders and cash – no need to use credit cards. Convenience always comes at a high price.

It’s amazing to me how many retail merchants will not give a discount for cash. Try it sometime – ask a clerk if they offer a discount for cash. They don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.

It’s as if they have no math skills……oh, wait….

Cruiser
Cruiser
8 days ago
Reply to  Buster

Young people today, have no idea what customer service is either.

Arny
Arny
8 days ago
Reply to  Buster

Cryptos are becoming the new convenience. The people won’t realize till they have NO financial freedom.

WI Patriot
WI Patriot
9 days ago

Old news, and it’s not the first time…

Nam62
Nam62
9 days ago

I stopped using B of A in the 70’s and went with local banks because of BS they pulled on my family…….