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Credit Cards Used To Stockpile Gun And Ammunition Arsenals

January 14, 2019

During the Christmas break a most interesting investigation was published in The New York Times regarding how people who stockpile guns and ammunition–at times in the amount of tens of thousands of dollars–use credit cards to make their demented plans a reality.

I was away from blogging over the break but want to post this due to its timeliness with gun shootings.

A little more than a month before James E. Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 others at a Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in 2012, a psychiatrist was considering having him involuntarily committed. Mr. Holmes quit his job, filed for unemployment benefits and used a new Mastercard issued by USAA to help buy more than $11,000 in weapons and military gear. He bought two tear-gas grenades, a gas mask and filter, a .40-caliber Glock handgun, a 12-gauge shotgun, a .223-caliber AR-15, a 100-round drum magazine, two 40-round magazines, a laser sight, a bulletproof vest, 5,000 rounds of ammunition, two sets of handcuffs and “road stars” meant to slice through car tires.

“This was a civilian making these orders, not the police and not the military,” said Sandy Phillips, whose daughter, Jessica, died in the attack. “Someone should have noticed.”

Over the last several months, I have spoken to senior executives at the country’s largest banks and credit card companies who were taken aback when I presented them with the list of shootings that involved their cards: Virginia Tech in 2007, Binghamton in 2009, Fort Hood in 2009, Aurora in 2012, San Bernardino in 2015, Orlando in 2016, Sutherland Springs in 2017 and Las Vegas in 2017. That list is based on interviews and hundreds of documents including police reports and credit card receipts. It may actually underreport the use of credit cards in shootings: In some cases the payment method could not be learned.

While some executives expressed grief and were open to discussing possible solutions, virtually none were willing to speak about them on the record for fear of upsetting gun-rights advocates and politicians invoking the Second Amendment. Some raised the prospect that by trying to help they would be held responsible if the system failed. Others made a slippery-slope argument: If they were to police gun sales, should they do the same for alcohol in an effort to prevent drunk-driving deaths?

3 Comments
  1. Zoltar Speaks! permalink
    January 14, 2019 6:21 PM

    Okay, are you talking about gun owners in general?

  2. January 14, 2019 5:11 PM

    No, the word choice is clear and precise.

  3. Zoltar Speaks! permalink
    January 14, 2019 4:50 PM

    Interesting how you use the word demented, it’s really not clear if you’re talking about gun owners in general or just the isolated ones that have conducted mass murder. Try rewording it.

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