Washington, D.C. – In case you missed it, today, the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government held a hearing on government entities weaponizing financial systems against the American people. 

Congresswoman Stefanik discussed the Protecting Privacy in Purchases Act, which she introduced with Congressman Richard Hudson (R-NC), and Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY), that would ban the use of a Merchant Category Code to track sales at gun stores.


Watch her line of questioning here.

Read a full transcript of her line of questioning below:

Congresswoman Stefanik: “Mr. Knight, thank you for your testimony today. In 2022, gun ban activists, Amalgamated Bank, and Far Left politicians pushed for the creation of an unconstitutional Merchant Category Code to be assigned to firearms’ retailers to identify ‘suspect purchases’ and report purchasing patterns to law enforcement: a clear, unconstitutional infringement on Second Amendment Rights and a clear backdoor to a gun registry. In fact, failed New York Attorney General Tish James specifically mentioned the importance of “labeling gun and ammunition sales” as a way to indicate an imminent crime. Since then, some states have banned the code while states like California have mandated it to surveil Americans’ purchases. This is why I introduced the Protecting Privacy in Purchases Act with Congressmen Barr and Hudson to put a stop to this code and protect law abiding Americans from this infringing, unconstitutional overreach. Can you explain how does this code threaten Americans’ privacy and constitutional rights?” 

Mr. Brian Knight, Senior Research Fellow and Director of Innovation and Governance, Mercatus Center at George Mason University: “Thank you very much. This code, and if we were going to do similar codes for other sensitive issues, risks creating a raft of false positives where individuals who are potentially engaging in Second Amendment activity because it’s important to know that the MCC doesn’t tell you what people buy, it just tells you where they buy it, right, will be reported to the government as potentially suspicious for no real basis or at least not a basis that is likely to be reasonable. And that’s going to create a database that is available that could be searched later. One of the dangerous things about this financial database is that these financial records, they’re retrospective and even perhaps, you know, just as bad is that there’s precious little reason to believe it would be effective at its stated goal for a host of reasons I can get into if you want.” 

Congresswoman Stefanik: “Yes, please expand.” 

Mr. Knight: “The problem here is that you won’t know what someone buys. You’re expecting banks to correctly identify what is really a hallmark of violence. You’re expecting them to report it promptly. You’re expecting law enforcement to then act on it promptly and effectively, and so I’d like to point to guns down America has a report that advocates the MCC, but if you look at the examples they point to as possible examples where this could have helped, it’s hard to believe they would, either because there’s such a short time frame–12 days. There's a reason to believe, I don’t see why we believe that you know 12 days would be enough time for law enforcement to act on it because we don’t know how fast it takes the government to use any SARs, or there’s actually, it’s hard to actually differentiate suspicious activity from legitimate activity, rather they look at cases and then work backwards, so we don’t know what the denominator is. We don’t know how many false positives there will be. Also, in the recent report when we look at the key bank methodology, it’s very, very broad. It’s very over inclusive, and its thresholds are such that it’s far more than you need to spend to commit a horrible act of violence but less than you’d spend to get a good hunting rifle and scope. And so how confident should we be that we’re going to actually get more signal than noise? I don’t believe we should be given how little we know about how SARs are treated as is, I think we should be deeply skeptical.”                   

Congresswoman Stefanik: “Do you believe this is a back door to a gun registry?”

Mr. Knight: “I believe some of its supporters view it as a back door to discourage firearms purchases.” 

Congresswoman Stefanik: “Well, in my district in Upstate New York and Americans across this country are proud to stand up for our constitutional rights and understand this is an infringement on our constitutional rights. Why is my bill so important?”

Mr. Knight: “Well, ma’am, I think the efforts to restrict the collection of data at the bank level are the best option we have currently because under current law, unless we can reform the BSA, once the bank has that data, government has that data, so preventing the collection at the bank level is your first best option.”