Tennessee Firearms Assocation John Harris on Credit Card Companies Tracking Gun Purchases

Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed John Harris, founder of the Tennessee Firearms Association, to the newsmaker line to discuss the new credit card merchant code for gun purchasers and how simple it would be to redefine Tennessee code for real constitutional carry in the state.

Leahy: We are joined right now by our very good friend John Harris with the Tennessee Firearms Association. Good morning, John.

Harris: Good morning.

Leahy: Last week, American Express, Mastercard, and Visa announced they plan to keep lists of those who purchase weapons using credit cards. Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti wrote a letter to them all, along with 24 other attorneys general, and said this is a bad idea to have these merchant code classifications change so that you’re tracking specifically firearm purchases. What are your thoughts, John Harris?

Harris: It has certainly created a lot of discussion and commentary in the TFA and similar state organizations and in some national organizations that really fight on these kinds of issues. And in part, it is justified because you got to look on the other side of the aisle at the progressive Democrats and liberals who are cheerleading the effort and the decision by these credit card companies to start collecting this data and making it, frankly, available for either just voluntarily turning it over to the federal government or making it available for FBI abuses. As we saw with the Mar-a-Lago situation.

Leahy: What are the constitutional problems with having such a database?

Harris: Technically, the Constitution doesn’t regulate private activity, so it wouldn’t jump in and prohibit private businesses from deciding to categorize transactions that they’re involved in because they already do it.

You can get an annual statement from some credit card companies to tell you how much you spend on restaurants and how much you spend on fuel, and that’s how they’ve been doing that for years.

The difference is they’re going to start tracking activities that relate to certain more sensitive areas. And it’s not that they can’t constitutionally do it.

It can and should under the Constitution, the federal government or even state and local governments have access to that information, either by voluntarily submission or subpoena power.

Leahy: John, Crom Carmichael has a question for you.

Carmichael: John, first a comment. I’m not sure that they have a constitutional right to do it, but that’s not really my point here. Would you advise people who are buying guns or ammunition to just pay cash?

Harris: Oh, absolutely. I would have advised that all before this decision. You don’t need to have any more paper trails out there that can be subpoenaed or observed by government abusers than you can avoid.

And so if you can pay cash, pay cash. If you can trade chickens for them, trade chickens. (Leahy laughs) If you can write a check and avoid, that three percent surcharge that a lot of merchants now charge for using a credit card, save everybody three percent. But absolutely, if you can avoid the credit card, just like Dave Ramsey says, do it.

Leahy: This is an announced proposal that they intend to implement, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. Have you seen any indication that Visa, Mastercard, or American Express are going to respond in a way that the attorney general who said, you probably not do this, that they would like or how are they responding? Have you seen anything?

Harris: I have not seen at this point yet responses, at least in the media from Visa, Mastercard, or American Express, to the challenges that some of these state attorney generals keep in mind. It’s the state AGs.

It’s not Merrick Garland that they’re raising that saying these may be antitrust violations, these could have other potential violations of law. And so we’re cautioning you not to do it, or at least not to do it in our state I think. But at this point, they’ve not really responded, and they may never respond unless pushed to that posturing.

Leahy: I was present earlier this month when you had an incredibly successful event. The Tennessee Farms Association legislative arm had a fundraiser out in Wilson County. Huge crowds. That event is to fund the activities of your legislative, political action branch, and there is an agenda that you have here when the Tennessee General Assembly convened in January. Tell us a little bit about that.

Harris: Yes, and thank you for bringing that up because we had some great speakers at that event. We had Congressman Mark Green. He was our first keynote speaker. Congressman John Rose did a great job.

And then we had several state legislators, and then we had the Senior Vice President of Gun Owners of America fly all the way in and really hit the nail on the head about how we just can’t trust the federal government.

But in terms of the TFA, we focus on state issues. And so we’ve got several big topics, one of which Mark Green carried for us as a state legislator and the General Assembly, the RINOS up there shot it down, and that was to enact real constitutional carry in Tennessee.

And Mark Green was very pointed to state that what Bill Lee passed and what the legislature carried and what a bunch of them tried to claim was constitutional carry in 2021 really wasn’t.

The work still has to be done to take Tennessee from an oppressive state that was even offered as such in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in this ruined decision that just came down as one of the examples of an oppressive state and make us truly a real constitutional carry state where our rights aren’t infringed. But even once we get there, we’re still looking at issues like gun-free zones.

People don’t realize with that crap that Bill Lee passed, that if you rely on that and carry without a permit and then you go onto a greenway or into a public park, you can be arrested.

Because Tennessee law creates a lot of gun-free zones and it creates different gun-free zones depending on whether you have the enhanced permit or the concealed-only permit or you follow the permitless carry option.

The rules just aren’t the same across the board, and there’s no excuse for that with us having a Republican supermajority for 13 years now. And in fact, it’s really not fair to call it a Republican supermajority because it’s a RINO supermajority.

Leahy: John, in terms of legislation that would present real constitutional carry here, what would be the key element, the additional elements of such legislation?

Harris: Oh, that’s simple. Tennessee has a specific statute. It’s Tennessee Code Annotated 30 917 13 781 It’s a single sentence. And it says, I’m paraphrasing, that it’s a crime for a person to carry a firearm or club a baseball bat with the intent to go armed.

And then there’s a separate statute right after that 1308 that says it’s a defense to that charge that you’re in your own home, that you are on your own property, that you’re in your own place of business, or that you have a carry permit, or that you’re otherwise carrying under some other exception or provision. But all we have to do to get Tennessee to real constitutional carry is delete a single sentence out of our existing code.

Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “John Harris” by NewsChannel 5. Background Photo “Gun Show” by M&R Glasgow. CC BY 2.0.


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2 Thoughts to “Tennessee Firearms Assocation John Harris on Credit Card Companies Tracking Gun Purchases”

  1. Ron W

    And it says, I’m paraphrasing, that it’s a crime for a person to carry a firearm or club a baseball bat with the intent to go armed.

    Doesn’t anyone carry a firearm do it with the intent to go armed? Yes!

    That is a flagrant VIOLATION of Article I, Section 26 of the Tennessee Constitution Declaration of Rights.

  2. 83ragtop50

    I heard that VISA objected to this new classification and was not bound to it because it was not in the international “rules” that come down on high. But then VISA suggested that the rules be changed (and they were) so now VISA can claim that they are forced to use the new code. This stinks to high heaven. I plan to use cash for my firearm and ammo purchases instead of my VISA card.