Obama recently unveiled Operation Choke Point, an executive cocktail intended to force banks and payment processors to divine what their customers are using their services to procure—and prohibit such sales/transactions if they fall under a wide range of “high-risk” goods of services.
Well, prohibit is the wrong word. Operation Choke Point isn’t a law. It’s a policy of enforcement. So a bank or payment processor is allowed to have whatever customers it wants, but the DOJ might sue/raid/charge them if they have relationships with any number of “high-risk” customers. Given the arbitrary nature of such enforcement, payment processors and banks are implicitly encouraged to “voluntarily” change their own terms in order to protect themselves from prosecution.
Included in the “high-risk” items for Operation Choke Point are guns and ammunition. Which means that banks and online processors are being encouraged not to do business with gun sellers. One such payment processor, Square, decided recently to change its policies—and I’m sure this had nothing to do with the recent up-ramping of Operation Choke Point:
Today, the Square’s terms prohibit gun-shop owners from using the credit-card processor not only when they are conducting gun sales at their brick-and-mortar stores but even more so when they are offsite, representing their stores at gun shows where they often need the wireless Square Reader to ring up sales on smartphones or tablets. . . .
Square’s revised terms of agreement immediately forced vendors to halt the processing of transactions of citizens who simply wish to buy or sell firearms or ammunition.
The timing of the release of the Square’s new, more stringent terms just so happens to coincide with Operation Choke Point’s initial targeting in the spring of 2013, as reported by The Daily Signal.
The structure and reasoning behind Operation Choke Point are dubious. For one, it amounts to legislating by enforcement, which is in contradiction to the most basic underpinnings of due process. Beyond that, it claims that it aims to “choke out” funding and materiel for terrorists and the criminal underground. But the people most affected by the “law” would be small businesses selling guns, ammunition, and tobacco.
For that matter, Square and Bitcoin (and similar small business payment solutions) might be the “unintended” collateral casualties of the law. Such “off the grid” payment processors have been under fire before for their possible use in money laundering and criminal activity. But the hard fact is that these payment processors offer a distinct local alternative to the centralized banking system and the Federal Reserve. I’m sure Big Money wouldn’t mind if Operation Choke Point were to “accidentally” hurt a free and local monetary system.
The bottom line is that anyone who is legally allowed to have a gun should be able to purchase one in whatever way is voluntarily acceptable between buyer and seller without the civil government’s interference. If Congress will not pass a law on the matter, the Executive branch shouldn’t be allowed to enforce its own laws by fiat. This is another clear example of the President and the DOJ bypassing Constitutional limitations in order to accomplish his own agenda.