Press Releases

Rep. Wexton Introduces Bill to Bring Financial Intelligence to Bear in the Fight Against Gun Violence

Washington, DC, November 15, 2019

Today, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) introduced the Gun Violence Prevention Through Financial Intelligence Act, which would direct the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to assist financial institutions, through its Financial Institutions Advisory Program, in identifying and reporting suspicious or illegal financial activity related to firearms.

“Banks, credit card companies, and retailers have unique insight into the behavior and purchasing patterns that can help identify and prevent mass shootings. We know that financial intelligence can be an effective tool to combat gun violence in the same way it is for money laundering, human smuggling, and fentanyl trafficking,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “Financial institutions have a legal obligation under the Bank Secrecy Act to have programs in place to help detect and report suspicious financial activity, but they have to know what they are looking for, and FinCEN can be a valuable partner. The red flags are there--someone just needs to be paying attention.”

Banks are already required by the Bank Secrecy Act to have programs in place to detect and report suspicious activity concerning money laundering, terrorist financing, or other criminal activities. FinCEN assists this reporting through the use of advisories that typically identify “red flags” that may indicate illicit activity. Since 1996, FinCEN has periodically issued public and nonpublic advisories on a range of topics, including foreign corruption, human smuggling, cybercrime, and fentanyl trafficking. 

The Gun Violence Prevention Through Financial Intelligence Act would require FinCEN to spend no more than one year collecting financial information for the purpose of issuing an advisory to assist financial institutions in identifying suspicious firearms transactions. Historically, retail-level purchase information--or SKU-level data--has been hard to obtain and the effectiveness of the advisory would depend on merchants sharing information about specific firearms products and accessories. If FinCEN determines that the data collected is insufficient, they must submit a report to Congress detailing the process and identifying barriers to data collection. 

This legislation is supported by Everytown for Gun Safety.

The bill is cosponsored by Representatives Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-VA), Antonio Cárdenas (D-CA), Sean T. Casten (D-IL), Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Henry R. Cuellar (D-TX), Madeleine C. Dean (D-PA), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

The full bill text can be viewed here

###