New York Times reporter and CNBC anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin offers a unique possible solution to gun control: If politicians in Washington can’t or won’t do anything, why not let Wall Street bankers give it a try?
“What if the finance industry — credit card companies like Visa, Mastercard and American Express; credit card processors like First Data; and banks like JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo — were to effectively set new rules for the sales of guns in America?” Sorkin wrote for the New York Times.
“Collectively, they have more leverage over the gun industry than any lawmaker. And it wouldn't be hard for them to take a stand,” Sorkin wrote after last week's gun-fueled massacre at a Florida high school left 17 dead and 14 injured.
There hasn’t been any significant new gun control regulation since President Barack Obama’s 2016 executive order regarding background checks.
The White House said on Monday that President Donald Trump supports efforts to improve federal background checks for gun purchases, Reuters reported.
Trump spoke to Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, on Friday about a bipartisan bill that he and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy introduced to improve federal compliance with criminal background checks, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
“While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system,” Sanders said in a statement.
Students, many using the mantra NeverAgain, are mobilizing around the country in favor of stronger gun laws after the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history took place on Wednesday at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a former student is accused of murdering 17 people using an assault-style rifle.
Previous mass shootings in the United States have also stirred outrage and calls for action to tighten U.S. gun laws, with few results in Congress.
Trump, who visited survivors of the shooting and law enforcement officials on Friday night before spending the weekend at his property in Palm Spring, Florida, is a strong supporter of gun rights and won the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun lobby group, for his 2016 presidential campaign.
But Sorkin proposes that the buck literally stop with the big banks on Wall Street.
PayPal, Square, Stripe and Apple Pay announced years ago that they would not allow their services to be used for the sale of firearms, Sorkin reported.
"We do not believe permitting the sale of firearms on our platform is consistent with our values or in the best interests of our customers," a spokesman for Square told Sorkin.
Sorkin said the big financial firms don't even have to go that far.
“For example, Visa, which published a 71-page paper in 2016 espousing its ‘corporate responsibility,’ could easily change its terms of service to say that it won't do business with retailers that sell assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and bump stocks, which make semiautomatic rifles fire faster. (Even the National Rifle Association has said it would support tighter restrictions on bump stocks.),” Sorkin reported.
“If Mastercard were to do the same, assault weapons would be eliminated from virtually every firearms store in America because otherwise the sellers would be cut off from the credit card system,” Sorkin wrote.
There is precedent for credit card issuers to ban the purchase of completely legal products, Sorkin wrote, citing that only recently have JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America banned the use of their cards to buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
“To be clear: Those three banks won't let you use your credit card to buy Bitcoin, but they will happily let you use it to buy an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle — the same kind of gun used in mass shootings in Parkland; Newtown, Conn.; San Bernardino, Calif.; Las Vegas; and Sutherland Springs, Tex.”
Meanwhile, since the 2016 election, gun stocks have largely sold off. American Outdoor has lost 62 percent of its value, Vista Outdoor Inc. is down by half, Sturm Ruger is off 23 percent, Bloomberg reported.
Background check data, a barometer for gun sales, also shows a decline in purchases. Last month’s background check numbers were the lowest for any January since 2012.
Retailers simply aren’t ordering firearms products as they used to. In some cases, they have too many on hand.
“Everyone thought Hillary was going to win. These retailers and distributors stocked up on the product before the election. They were really expecting a dramatic surge,” said Rommel Dionisio, a managing director of equity research at Aegis Capital who focuses on publicly traded firearms companies.
(Newsmax wire services contributed to this report).
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