They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security. Benjamin Franklin
Is engaging in commerce probable cause that a crime is being committed simply because it involves a firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition? Can you live at liberty if government claims the right to watch anything they think might be used criminally in the future?
With the promise of keeping us safe from gun violence, violent extremists, and those ever-present white extremists, aka domestic terrorists, Democrat Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, and 5 cosponsors that include Jennifer Wexton and Gerald Connolly of Virginia, introduced HR 5764, the Gun Violence Prevention Through Financial Intelligence Act. An identical bill, S 3117 was introduced in the Senate by Edward Markey of Massachusetts.
Under current regulations, all financial institutions are required to file Suspicious Activity Reports to raise red flags about money laundering, human trafficking, terrorist financing and other criminal activity. HR 5764 and S 3117 will eventually add potential criminals to that list.
Both bills require that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, FinCEN, collect and analyze data from financial institutions to “determine” what indicators, if any, might precede a mass shooting or terrorist attack and force banks to use these indicators to file a report against their customers. In simple English, the government feels the “need” to harass and/or arrest anyone that buys guns and ammo.
Paul Engel, in his article at the Constitution Study, says these bills are a first step to a writ of assistance which is basically an open-ended type of search warrant prohibited by the Bill of Rights. An open-end search warrant would allow law enforcement to search your premises for contraband without probable cause required by the 4th Amendment. If they found something, anything that would allow them to charge you with a crime, they would then fill out the warrant to seize what they found.
The idea behind the Fourth Amendment is simple: You have a right to be secure from unreasonable searches. For a warrant to be issued to search your person, houses, papers, or effects, it must be based on probable cause and supported by oath or affirmation. In other words, someone had to go to court and swear or affirm that the information showing probable cause was true. Not only that, but any warrant issued must be specific in where people can search and what they can seize.
While it is true that these bills don’t demand reporting of “suspicious” transaction yet, we know how government operates. Give them an inch, they take a mile. They start by passing a law to “expand” the definition of suspicious activities to include what banks think “homegrown violent extremists and perpetrators of domestic terrorism” might do in order to acquire guns. The next logical step, of course, is to require that banks report this “suspicious” activity to the appropriate government bureaucrats, which then “forces” law enforcement to swoop in and prevent a crime that more than likely would never take place. The end result is to instill fear and confiscate guns until such time as they can find a way to eliminate the 2nd Amendment.
My question: What makes a transaction suspicious and what makes this transaction probable cause that a crime has been committed or will be committed sometime in the future?
You may think that buying 10,000 rounds of ammunition is suspicious; however, anyone from competitive shooters to people who are looking for a bargain or concerned about future shortages, may see this as a reasonable action to take. And if someone finds 10,000 rounds suspicious, what about 1,000? 100? Or just ten? How many guns can you purchase at one time or in your lifetime before being considered a potential domestic terrorist?
The Constitution requires there be probable cause before you or your stuff can be searched – Not what a government bureaucrat thinks is suspicious or not what your neighbor thinks is suspicious. The Constitution also requires that said probable cause be supported by oath or affirmation before a warrant is issued – Not legislation that demands you show people your books or that you show up to witness against yourself.
We cannot afford to let our liberties slip away from us. We cannot afford to forget the past. We must defend those rights and liberties that so many bled and died for.
A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever. John Adams in a Letter to Abigail Adams (July 7, 1775).