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Two Americas: Do You Live in a Gun Transaction Tracking State?

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Stephanie Sy:

So why do states like California believe this could combat mass killings? Companies already have the names of companies every time there’s a transaction. They already, from what I understand, also have the right to flag that to law enforcement authorities for further investigation. Why is this needed?

David Lieb:

So some state officials and gun control activists hope that, by categorizing particular stores as gun stores, banks will be able to spot unusual purchasing patterns.

Let’s say you’re not usually shopping at a gun store, but suddenly you make a large purchase from a gun store, but not just one, but from multiple gun stores, in a short period of time. That might raise some suspicions. A financial institution then might flag that suspicious activity to federal or state authorities, who could do further investigation and, gun control activists hope, potentially thwart a crime or a mass shooting.

Stephanie Sy:

Does it lead to unlawful government spying, which is what Republican critics of this type of rule suggest it does?

Are you expecting legal challenges?

David Lieb:

Well, that is the fear from gun rights advocates. And that’s why Republican legislators in 17 states now have passed some sort of measure that limits or outright prohibits the assigning of gun store codes to particular retailers.

Their fear is that what might be suspicious to one person is not actually suspicious at all. Let’s take the example of someone who for their job perhaps has to undergo periodic firearms training to make sure that they’re still accurate.

Well, that person may go out and buy a large quantity of ammunition for a weekend training session, may be perfectly legal, but it could arise suspicions to someone. It’s scenarios like that that gun rights advocates are concerned about, casting unwarranted suspicion people who have done nothing wrong.

Stephanie Sy in New Laws on Tracking Gun Sales Highlight Divide Between Blue and Red States

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