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ACTION ALERT: Guns Amok: If Congress Won't Act, Perhaps the Banks Will

February 22, 2018
Ultraviolet & NewsMax & William Cummings and Bart Jansen / USA TODAY

Kids are being murdered and Congress has done nothing to stop the sale of these assault weapons -- they are more worried about losing their campaign contributions than people's lives. Now we're calling on Visa, Mastercard, and other credit card companies to stop allowing people to buy assault weapons with their credit cards.


If Congress Won't Act, Perhaps the Banks Will

On Monday, the New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin floated an idea worth our taking up; if Congress won't curb the sales of guns, how about the banks?

Apparently, PayPal, Square, Stripe, and Apple Pay will not allow their services to be used for the sale of firearms. Why not Visa, Mastercard, and American Express?

This kind of restriction is not unprecedented; just this month, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America barred the use of their cards to buy cryptocurrencies.

ACTION: Let's point out to the credit card companies that they need us and we don't want them to facilitate gun sales:
Visa 1-800-847-2911;
Mastercard 1-800-307-7309;
American Express 1-800-528-4800

ACTION ALERT Credit Cards vs. Mass-killings

ACTION: Tell Mastercard, Visa, and other major credit card companies: "Refuse to process all sales from retailers who sell assault weapons."

Last week, a young man entered a school with an AR-15 rifle and killed 17 students and teachers. That's the same military-grade rifle used to kill 58 people in Las Vegas. And 49 people at the Pulse nightclub. And 27 people at Sandy Hook Elementary. And so many others. (1)

Kids are being murdered and Congress has done nothing to stop the sale of these assault weapons -- they are more worried about losing their campaign contributions than people's lives. But they are not the only ones who can do something.

Companies like PayPal and Apple Pay have already banned the purchase of firearms using their services. (2) Now we're calling on Visa, Mastercard, and other credit card companies to stop allowing people to buy assault weapons with their credit cards.

A new report from The New York Times explains these companies have the power to do this, but they won't act unless customers demand it. (3) And there is no time to waste -- more lives will be lost while we wait for Congress to act. Will you add your name to this petition?

This past weekend, the country watched in awe as brave students in Florida who survived one of the deadliest school shootings rallied and pleaded for more than "thoughts and prayers" -- they want action to pass commonsense reforms to curb gun violence. (4)

UltraViolet members must stand with these students and pursue creative solutions in the face of Congress' cowardice. If credit card companies like Visa and Mastercard block sales from retailers who sell assault weapons, guns intended to kill people en masse will be harder to purchase.

Plus, we've run campaigns like this in the past with allies like Color of Change, and won. After Charlottesville, credit card companies stopped processing donations to dozens of white supremacy groups because of the violence they inflicted and encouraged. (5) If we act now, we can block sales of assault weapons using major credit cards.

ACTION: Will you demand Visa, Mastercard, and others stop processing sales from retailers who sell assault weapons?

Thanks for speaking out!

1. Why the AR-15 keeps appearing at America's deadliest mass shootings, USA Today, February 14, 2018
2. How Banks Could Control Gun Sales if Washington Won't, New York Times, February 19, 2018
3. Ibid.
4. Parkland students to march on the Capitol this week to demand change to gun laws, Miami Herald, February 18, 2018
5. Blood Money, Color of Change, accessed February 21, 2018

How banks could control gun sales if Washington won't from CNBC.

How Banks Could Control Gun Sales if Washington Won't

(February 20, 2018) -- 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 US 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 US 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.

Why the AR-15 Keeps Appearing at America's Deadliest Mass Shootings
William Cummings and Bart Jansen / USA TODAY

(February 14, 2018) -- A Las Vegas concert. An Orlando nightclub. An elementary school in Newtown, Conn. A Texas church. And now a high school in Parkland, Fla.

America's most popular weapon was there for all of them.

AR-15-style rifles have increasingly appeared in American mass shootings, including the deadliest high school shooting in the nation's history at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Wednesday.

The National Rifle Association has called the AR-15 -- the semi-automatic, civilian version of the military's M-16 -- the "most popular rifle in America" and estimates Americans own more than 8 million of them.

The name AR-15 (AR stands for ArmaLite, not assault rifle, which is a common misconception) is trademarked by the firearms manufacturer Colt. But since the patent on the weapon's operating system ran out, a host of other manufacturers began making their own variants of the popular rifle.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry's trade association, campaigned to have AR-platform rifles referred to as "modern sporting rifles," or MSRs, both to avoid confusion and to try to stem the reference to the rifles with the politically loaded "assault rifle" label.

The NRA said: "the AR-15 has soared in popularity" because it's "customizable, adaptable, reliable and accurate." It is also versatile and can be used for "sport shooting, hunting and self-defense situations," the NRA said, adding the ability to "personalize" so many of the rifle's components "is one of the things that makes it so unique."

On top of that, the weapon is accurate, relatively lightweight and has low recoil.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence also cited the rifle's versatility in evaluating its popularity.

"They're accurate and they can basically shoot as quickly as you can pull the trigger," according to a campaign statement. "Along those lines, they're very customizable -- most average people can figure out how to install accessories like forward trigger grips that let you hold the gun at waist height and spray bullets while stabilizing the gun, laser sights, and you can add high-capacity magazines."

The ability to add a high-capacity magazine to the rifles is certainly one factor that makes them attractive to people looking to commit mass murder. A 30-round magazine is fairly standard with MSRs (although some states cap the capacity to 10 or 15 rounds), but "drums" holding as many as 100 rounds are also available.

But the AR-15 and its variants aren't the only high-capacity semi-automatic rifles on the market. Dean Hazen, owner of The Gun Experts in Mahomet, Ill., and a master firearms instructor, said the reason mass shooters are turning to the AR-15 is due to a "copy-cat" mentality more than any feature of the rifle.

"It's really just a perception thing," Hazen said. "There are rifles that are more powerful and more dangerous than that, but they're not being used."

Hazen said the AR-15 has "gotten a bad rap." He believes mass shooters generally don't know much about guns and choose the AR-15 because of the reputation it has gotten from being used in other mass shootings. "Thank God they don't know any better because if they did they would use much more effective weapons," Hazen said.

Here is a list of mass shootings in the US that featured AR-15-style rifles during the last 35 years, courtesy of the Stanford Geospatial Center and Stanford Libraries and USA TODAY research:

* Feb. 24, 1984: Tyrone Mitchell, 28, used an AR-15, a Stoeger 12-gauge shotgun and a Winchester 12-gauge shotgun to kill two and wound 12 at 49th Street Elementary School in Los Angeles before killing himself.

* Oct. 7, 2007: Tyler Peterson, 20, used an AR-15 to kill six and injure one at an apartment in Crandon, Wis., before killing himself.

* June 20, 2012: James Eagan Holmes, 24, used an AR-15-style .223-caliber Smith and Wesson rifle with a 100-round magazine, a 12-gauge Remington shotgun and two .40-caliber Glock semi-automatic pistols to kill 12 and injure 58 at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.

* Dec. 14, 2012: Adam Lanza, 20, used an AR-15-style rifle, a .223-caliber Bushmaster, to kill 27 people -- his mother, 20 students and six teachers -- in Newtown, Conn., before killing himself.

* June 7, 2013: John Zawahri, 23, used an AR-15-style .223-caliber rifle and a .44-caliber Remington revolver to kill five and injure three at a home in Santa Monica, Calif., before he was killed.

* March 19, 2015: Justin Fowler, 24, used an AR-15 to kill one and injure two on a street in Little Water, N.M., before he was killed.

* May 31, 2015: Jeffrey Scott Pitts, 36, used an AR-15 and .45-caliber handgun to kill two and injure two at a store in Conyers, Ga., before he was killed.

* Oct. 31, 2015: Noah Jacob Harpham, 33, used an AR-15, a .357-caliber revolver and a 9mm semi-automatic pistol to kill three on a street in Colorado Springs, Colo., before he was killed.

* Dec. 2, 2015: Syed Rizwyan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, 28 and 27, used two AR-15-style, .223-caliber Remington rifles and two 9 mm handguns to kill 14 and injure 21 at his workplace in San Bernardino, Calif., before they were killed.

* June 12, 2016: Omar Mateen, 29, used an AR-15 style rifle (a Sig Sauer MCX), and a 9mm Glock semi-automatic pistol to kill 49 people and injure 50 at an Orlando nightclub before he was killed.

* Oct. 1, 2017: Stephen Paddock, 64, used a stockpile of guns including an AR-15 to kill 58 people and injure hundreds at a music festival in Las Vegas before he killed himself.

* Nov. 5, 2017: Devin Kelley, 26, used an AR-15 style Ruger rifle to kill 26 people at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, before he was killed.

* Feb. 14, 2018: Police say Nikolas Cruz, 19, used an AR-15-style rifle to kill at least 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.




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