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Democrat unveils bill requiring banks to identify suspicious activity related to guns

Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) introduced a bill requiring financial institutions to identify and report suspicious or illegal financial activity related to firearms on Friday.

The legislation comes a day after the shooting in a Southern California high school that left two students dead and three injured when a gunman, who also shot himself, opened fire. 

Wexton’s state, Virginia, also suffered a mass shooting earlier this year when a gunman killed 12 people and injured four others in Virginia Beach.

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“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,” Wexton said in a press release.

The move would require banks to report suspicious activity the way they are required to do by the Bank Secrecy Act for money laundering and terrorist financing.

Wexton’s bill, the Gun Violence Prevention Through Financial Intelligence Act, would direct the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to spend a year collecting financial information in order to issue an advisory to help financial institutions identify suspicious firearms transactions. 

FinCEN, which is a bureau of the Treasury Department, issues public and nonpublic advisories on financial crimes like foreign corruption, human smuggling, cyber crime and fentanyl trafficking. 

The legislation is supported by Everytown for Gun Safety and co-sponsored by Democratic Reps. Don Beyer (Va.), Tony Cárdenas (Calif.), Sean Casten (Ill.), Gerry Connolly (Va.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Madeleine Dean (Pa.) and Alcee Hastings (Fla.), and by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

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