Florida CFO warns credit card companies against tracking gun buys

The pushback to the new credit card codes for gun stores and the potential to track sales to law-abiding gun owners continues in state capitols and on Capitol Hill, and we have the latest details on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co (which you can find at the end of this post), starting with the callout of credit card companies by the Chief Financial Officer for the state of Florida.

On Wednesday Jimmy Patronis issued a word of warning to firms like Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, telling them in no uncertain terms that if the companies end up establishing some sort of “corporate watch list” of gun owners his office is ready to pursue action to defend consumers.

Gun control advocates say that’s a positive step allowing credit card companies to act on red flags such as a domestic buildup of firearms for a local extremist movement.

But Patronis called it social engineering and part of a trend toward “environment, social and corporate governance,” or ESG.

“It is also symptomatic of the virus known as ESG, which is part of a global effort to socially re-engineer the country that we love so much,” Patronis said. “There is no way we are going to allow that to happen in the free state of Florida.”

Bearing Arms contributor Ryan Petty also mentioned the ESG mentality that’s a part of the current pressure campaign by anti-gun groups and politicians like Elizabeth Warren and New York City Mayor Eric Adams in his piece on the gun control lobby’s ultimate end game in targeting the use of credit for gun buys, and it’s good to see Patronis has picked up on the fact that this is just part of a much larger effort on the left to bully companies into adopting supposedly progressive policies that are in reality reactionary and authoritarian power grabs. In fact, Patronis is hinting that the state legislature in Tallahassee might have a thing or two to say about this once its back in session.

He said the Legislature must act in a coming Legislative Session if credit card services use their power to erode Floridians’ access to guns.

“If we come to the legislative session and companies like Visa, Mastercard and American Express are generating these reports to create a chilling effect against the purchase of firearms, then I’ll work with the Legislature to pass a law penalizing businesses who are targeting the right to bear arms,” Patronis said.

“We’ve seen a groundbreaking ruling come out of the Fifth Circuit limiting corporations’ ability to curtail American’s constitutional rights, so we are on solid legal footing to pursue a bill protecting Floridians 2nd Amendment Rights. We can also take it a step further by barring these companies from doing any business with the State of Florida. We will send a message out to these large corporations that if you are interested in doing business with Florida, you need to make sure that you’re protecting Floridians’ right to arm and defend themselves.”

To their credit, firms like Visa and Mastercard have publicly stated that these new codes are not going to be used to track individual purchases at gun stores, though they’ve been quiet about how they’ll determine whether or not a particular transaction should be flagged as “suspicious.” And on Wednesday, the CEO of one of the country’s biggest banks told a congressional committee that it’s still unclear what exactly they’re supposed to report after the new codes take effect.

“This is a developing area at this particular time,” said William Rogers, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Truist Financial Corporation.

“So our position — we’ll follow the rules that are part of this system. But as of today, we’ll also protect the — follow the law, protect the rights of our consumers in terms of reporting.

“So I can’t speak to exactly what will be required in terms of reporting, but that won’t be something that we’ll do on a voluntary basis.”

Honestly, Rogers’ response raises some questions of its own. If Truist won’t be volunteering any information about its customers transactions (something I hope is true), then how does that square with the assertions of gun control activists that these new merchant category codes for gun stores will somehow be able to prevent violent crimes and mass shootings?

The simplest explanation is that the gun control lobby isn’t being honest about what these new codes will and will not do. This is a common strategy for the anti-gunners; declare that a particular policy is desperately needed, and then when it doesn’t do anything all proclaim that the reason for its failure is that it didn’t go far enough. In this case, the anti-gun groups are intent on cutting off consumers access to credit for all gun purchases, though I’m guessing they’d be willing to “settle” for banks and credit card companies scrutinizing the particulars of any business done at gun shops; a move that would result in a privately-run gun registry, at least for all purchases made with a credit card instead of cash.

It’s worth noting that so far none of the big banks or credit card companies have expressed a desire or eagerness to take this next step, but that doesn’t mean they won’t cave to the pressure campaign by anti-gun groups. That’s why its so important that Republicans apply an equal amount of pressure in the opposite direction and encourage these companies to stick to their own business instead of doing the bidding of those trying to eradicate our constitutional right to keep and bear arms.