Stopping Mass Shootings: Andrew Ross Sorkin Gets It Wrong.

              For all the talk about how the liberal media tries to present a balanced view on issues that provoke public debate, a column by Andrew Ross Sorkin goes so far beyond what should be the proper boundaries for defining discussions about gun violence that The New York Times should be ashamed of themselves for running it earlier this week.

              I am referring to Sorkin’s claim that he found a pattern running through the preparations made by people who committed mass shootings, the pattern being that they used credit cards to make large and expensive purchases of guns and ammunition which would not have been possible had these guys been forced to use cash.

              Sorkin reviews documentation from various mass shootings, including The Pulse and Aurora, where it appears that both shooters, Mateen and Holmes, may have secured credit cards for the express purpose of stocking up on large amounts of ammunition and multiple guns, which were then used in both attacks.

              That’s fine as far as it goes. But Sorkin then steps across the line, actually leaps across the line, by talking in very positive terms about how easy it would be for banks and credit card underwriters to track such purchases and alert law-enforcement authorities if and when someone’s credit card account suddenly shows all kinds of buying activity involving ammunition and guns. Sorkin claims it would be a simple process for financial institutions to create and administer the same kind of data-crunching systems which they currently use to track fraud, money-laundering or terrorism.

Basically, such a scheme would require merchants who take credit card payments to identify the type of object being purchased, which is almost always found in the item’s SKU, which is that bar-code on the package which tells a merchant how to adjust inventory levels after every sale. All we would need to do is create a specific SKU for guns or ammunition that would be reported to the credit card underwriter and then flow directly to the cops.

The idea that we would give the police any information about our buying habits except when we make an illegal purchase, simply blows my mind. If this isn’t the most egregious violation of just about every, Constitutional protection we have, I don’t know what is.  And while Sorkin spends two paragraphs on the civil liberties issue with the requisite comment from the ACLU, he doesn’t seem overly concerned about the loss of privacy where guns are concerned. If he knew anything about the gun industry (and when was the last time that any of the self-appointed ‘experts’ who write about guns for media outlets like The New York Times knew anything about the gun industry?) he would realize that the system for spotting people who purchase large numbers of weapons in short periods of time is already in place.

The system is called FBI-NICS, and while the FBI is supposed to destroy data generated by all background checks within 24 hours, duhhh, they don’t. And there is no statute which prevents the FBI from alerting ATF if a background check with the same personal identifiers shows up multiple times on the same day.

I can guarantee you that if Sorkin had written an article about why we need to track purchases of any consumer item except guns, there would have been an enormous geschrei from every civil libertarian around.  But giving the cops an unfettered look into the most personal habits and behavior of every American who owns guns because, after all, that’s how we will prevent what happened at Aurora and Sandy Hook?  Is he serious?

Until Omar Mateen walked into the Pulse and shot the place up, the record for the highest number of shooting casualties was held by Seung-Hui Cho, set at Virginia Tech. Between the pistol, the extra mags and the ammunition, the rampage that cost the lives of 32 faculty and students cost him less than $500 bucks.

That wouldn’t have happened if VISA had sent a ding to the cops after Cho bought his Glock?  Give me a break. 

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4 thoughts on “Stopping Mass Shootings: Andrew Ross Sorkin Gets It Wrong.

  1. And of course this requires the haystack to find the needle. For every one person buying a bunch of ammo and a few guns to do a mass murder, how many gun nuts just buy a few guns and a bunch of ammo to do a nice day at the range?

    This is profiling at its worst. Ira Glasser once quipped that we could arrest most of the NBA players because they are young and black and therefore…fit the profile for inner city thugs. well, except that they are probably taller. Just bust the point and shooting guards.

  2. If a law such as Sorkin recommends was passed, mass shooters would buy only one gun and a few boxes of ammo. Which is enough to kill a few dozen people.

    • Not everyone is a rich active shooter. Plus, most active shooters do their damage with one or two guns even if they have a boatload of them (UT Tower, Newtown, Florida, Vegas come to mind). 30 rd mags are under 20 bucks ea and one reason I like to shoot the 223/5.56 is that ammo is cheap; rounds are almost an order of magnitude cheaper than big hunting magnum rounds. The little bullets, sadly, don’t make as much of a steel target “pling” at 300 yards as the 300 Magnum. I think Mr. Sorkin is concentrating on black swans.

      The idea that banks could flag a mass shooter from credit card receipts seems hard to believe in most cases. Especially once word is out. There is nothing to keep someone from taking out cash against a credit card line of credit and paying cash for guns and in fact I know guys who refuse to use a credit card or check at a gun store for fear of Big Brother watching. God, if I decide to take a Massad Ayoob 80 hour class and buy a couple cases of ammo I better expect the banks to call the SWAT team, right?

      Sorkin just wants to invent a solution for a complex problem and bring Big Banking Brother down on gun owners, i.e., another Andy Cuomo Solution. NY Times would impose an Aussie Solution tomorrow if it could, by any means necessary such as bank snooping to prevent people from buying anything but a bolt action rifle or break action shotgun. I suppose some will cheer.

  3. Anyone who imagines that the costs factor into whether or not a crazy guy gets to act out a kinetic, deadly form of trolling with a gun probably has not spent many hours at the range and…or a gun show.
    I do not want to give suggestions, .but a hand full of money spent mindfulfully could be used to create more tradegy than anyone can be expected bear up to, emotionally.
    Banksters seem to they
    2

    h)lmited degree of insight into how so much of middle America would react to to schemes like this.
    The first step would be to go to cash only. The reason I say this is likely is because all the people I know have already taken that step. Where I live, paying for a 420 round box of .556 NATO with cash ,,,200ish dollars… would inspire a yawn from the sales person, although the better kind might offer you a bigger discount on it if you bought two or more at the same time.

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