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Left's New Scheme to Overturn Second Amendment by Stealth

My bill will prevent them from making your legal gun purchases "suspicious"
By Terry Johnson
March 1, 2024
On The Record

What would you think if the government began keeping track of every Big Mac you buy? Or every Big Gulp. Bottled water. Red meat. Gasoline. Or anything else the busybody woke left does not like?

And then, what if the government said you could not buy any more because the number of your purchases was “suspicious?”

Does that sound like America to you?

But that’s exactly what the radical left is now trying to do with firearms. It’s a backdoor attempt to steal your Constitutional right to self-defense.

Here’s how they’re doing it. 

Retail merchants use a code to identify products purchased with credit cards. The Swiss-based foreign organization (the International Organization for Standardization) that designates these codes has now introduced one for identifying purchases made at firearms retailers. 

Leftist politicians and activists are pressuring retailers and credit card companies to use this code. But that would inevitably lead to major violations of both federal law and the U.S. Constitution.

That’s why I introduced Senate Bill 148, passed overwhelmingly by the Ohio Senate on Wednesday. This bill will protect Ohio’s firearm owners and retailers from financial discrimination and preserve all of our Second Amendment rights.

As I explained in my testimony supporting the bill, this merchant code would allow credit card companies to track lawful firearm purchases across the country, violating the privacy of customers and threatening the Constitutionally protected Second Amendment rights of Americans

The end result would be, as even proponents such as the New York Times have admitted, identifying “suspicious purchases” of firearms and ammunition, blocking those purchases, and even notifying law enforcement and the FBI of the purchase.   

Senate Bill 148 will: 

     •        Ban a financial institution from assigning a firearms code for retail purchases in a way that distinguishes between a firearms retailer and other retailers.
     •        Prohibit financial institutions from declining a payment card transaction involving a firearms dealer merely because the transaction is assigned a firearms code.
     •        Prohibit any governmental entity from keeping a list or registry of firearms or firearm owners. 
     •        Empower the Ohio Attorney General to investigate alleged violations of these prohibitions and to bring civil action against violators.

My bill addresses major problems posed by the potential abuse of this merchant code identifying purchases made at firearms retail stores.

The code does not identify the product purchased. It does not distinguish between the purchase of firearms and any other of the numerous products you might buy at an outdoors store. 

Buying 20 tents for a Boy Scout troop could land you on a list for buying a “suspicious” amount from a firearms dealer. The merchant code is unspecific and indiscriminate, making it rife for abuse by the government.  

Additionally, who decides what is “suspicious?” Who determines what is a suspicious amount of purchases from a firearms dealer?  What is the threshold? Is there a specific amount of purchases that makes them suspicious?

No. There is no objective criteria determining a suspicious amount of purchase at a firearms store. That would be determined by a government bureaucrat. Some unelected civil servant would have the de facto power to suspend your Constitutional right based on nothing but a woke whim. 

This makes the process more than rife for abuse – it makes for an irresistibly tempting tool at the hands of Second Amendment hating bureaucrats and politicians. One they will be sure to attempt to abuse.

The sales data provided by this code would also provide bureaucrats with an ever-expanding list identifying lawful gun owners in America. The federal government is prohibited by law from keeping a list of gun owners, thanks to the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act of 1986. But this data would virtually hand the government such a list on a silver platter.

As Rob Sexton of the Buckeye Arms Association testified, “Government agencies could then later request or even require credit card processors to turn this information over, and it would then function similar to a registration list.”

The introduction of this merchant code is an obvious attempt to skirt the law and create this list by stealth.

The potential for the government to abuse this list would be enormous.  It would be a simple matter to suspend any citizen’s Second Amendment rights by informing them their purchases are “suspicious” enough to ban them from purchasing firearms. 

And if the government ever claimed it needed to seize firearms due to an “emergency,” it would know exactly where to look – and upon whose doors to knock.

As John Weber of the National Rifle Association testified in support of SB 148, “Backers of the firearm retailer MCC (merchant category code) have made clear that their goal is to use the code to enact further gun control through a public-private partnership.”

“Collecting firearm retailer financial transaction data amounts to surveillance and registration of law-abiding gun owners,” he added.

Senate Bill 148 prohibits any governmental entity from keeping a list or registry of firearms or firearm owners.

It also protects both firearm retailers and owners from financial discrimination by prohibiting a financial institution from requiring the use of a firearms code, declining a lawful transaction involving a firearms retailer based solely on whether the transaction is assigned a firearms code, or disclosing financial records.

Passing this legislation would bring Ohio in line with seven other states, most recently Texas, that have passed similar bills to protect the financial privacy of law-abiding gun owners and retailers.

As a last line of defense, leftists will be sure to argue that firearms are different than Big Macs and Big Gulps.

They are correct, but not in the way they think. 

The difference is you do not have a Constitutionally guaranteed right to burgers and beverages. You do have one for firearms. They are that important, in the eyes of the Founders.

But, liberals will argue, unlike the other items mentioned, guns are designed to kill people. No, the purpose of a gun is to defend people.
You do not have a Constitutional right to shoot people. You have a Constitutional right to own a firearm for self-protection.

The basic purpose of a firearm, as the Founders saw it, was for defending – not attacking. That is why it is such an important and basic right it was listed second, just after freedom of speech.

The Founders secured your right to arms because the primary purpose of firearms is self-defense. To protect every American. To prevent violence, not cause it. Liberals almost always get this backwards.

They think you will be safer if disarmed. The Founders knew better – they knew just the opposite was true. And so do you.

That’s why I feel it is imperative to see Senate Bill 148 become state law – to protect our Second Amendment from an attack by a leftist international organization that wants to stomp on your Constitutional right to purchase firearms.

Enough is enough. Senate Bill 148 preserves your fundamental Second Amendment rights and protects your privacy from invasion by an increasingly woke government bureaucracy and leftist politicians. 

Senator Terry Johnson represents Ohio Senate District 14

Editor's Note:

Watch Senator Johnson deliver his floor speech making the case for passing Senate Bill 148.