Banks are mulling a creative way to enforce gun control even if the government doesn't make a single change

  • A New York Times columnist floated the idea of having banks and credit card companies cut business ties with retailers that sell assault weapons and accessories.
  • Some finance industry executives are already reportedly on board with the idea.
  • Credit card companies have enacted similar measures in the past, barring Bitcoin purchases, cutting ties with Backpage.com, and suspending payments to WikiLeaks.
  • This post is part of Business Insider's series on Better Capitalism.

Last week's deadly shooting in Florida sparked renewed calls for gun-control legislation — but some finance industry titans reportedly want to take the issue into their own hands.

New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote Monday that he'd spent several days speaking with "a handful of chief executives" to discuss how banks and credit-card companies could intervene in gun sales. Sorkin said he found universal enthusiasm, though none of the executives would speak on the record.

RELATED: Teens protest gun violence at the White House

15 PHOTOS
Teens protest gun violence at the White House
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Teens protest gun violence at the White House
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 19: Demonstrators lie on the ground a 'lie-in' demonstration supporting gun control reform near the White House on February 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. According to a statement from the White House, 'the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system.', in the wake of last weeks shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 19: Washington, D.C., area students and supporters protest against gun violence outside of the White House on Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, after 17 people were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last week. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 19: Washington, D.C., area students and supporters protest against gun violence outside of the White House on Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, after 17 people were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last week. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 19: A counter-demonstrator holds signs during a 'lie-in' demonstration supporting gun control reform near the White House on February 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. According to a statement from the White House, 'the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system.', in the wake of last weeks shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 19: Washington, D.C., area students and supporters protest against gun violence with a lie-in outside of the White House on Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, after 17 people were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last week. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 19: Demonstrators chant during a 'lie-in' demonstration supporting gun control reform near the White House on February 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. According to a statement from the White House, 'the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system.', in the wake of last weeks shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 19: Demonstrators lie on the ground during a 'lie-in' demonstration supporting gun control reform near the White House on February 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. According to a statement from the White House, 'the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system.', in the wake of last weeks shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 19: Demonstrators chant during a 'lie-in' demonstration supporting gun control reform near the White House on February 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. According to a statement from the White House, 'the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system.', in the wake of last weeks shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 19: Demonstrators lie on the ground during a 'lie-in' demonstration supporting gun control reform near the White House on February 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. According to a statement from the White House, 'the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system.', in the wake of last weeks shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 19: A demonstrator supporting gun control attempts to cover a sign held by a counter-protestor supporting gun rights during a 'lie-in' demonstration supporting gun control reform near the White House on February 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. According to a statement from the White House, 'the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system.', in the wake of last weeks shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 19: Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., speaks with Washington, D.C., area students and supporters as they hold a protest against gun violence with a lie-in outside of the White House on Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, after 17 people were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last week. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 19: Washington, D.C., area students and supporters protest against gun violence with a lie-in outside of the White House on Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, after 17 people were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last week. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 19: Washington, D.C., area students protest against gun violence outside of the White House on Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, after 17 people were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last week. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 19: Demonstrators supporting both gun control, at left, and gun rights, at right, hold signs during a 'lie-in' demonstration supporting gun control reform near the White House on February 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. According to a statement from the White House, 'the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system.', in the wake of last weeks shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 19: Demonstrators hold signs during a 'lie-in' demonstration supporting gun control reform near the White House on February 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. According to a statement from the White House, 'the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system.', in the wake of last weeks shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
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Sorkin drew upon Visa's espousal of "corporate responsibility" to argue that financial companies should change their terms of service to cut business ties with retailers that sell assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and bump stock devices that accelerate semiautomatic rifles' firing rate.

"Assault weapons would be eliminated from virtually every firearms store in America because otherwise the sellers would be cut off from the credit card system," Sorkin wrote.

The idea has precedent, Sorkin added. Major banks including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America barred clients from using their credit cards to buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies due to risk and volatility.

The financial industry has also previously intervened in cases where the companies feared legal liability from their clients' purchases. In 2015, Visa and MasterCard cut business ties with Backpage.com, the classified advertising portal, after law-enforcement agencies accused site of facilitating sex trafficking.

RELATED: States with the toughest gun laws

25 PHOTOS
States with the toughest gun laws
See Gallery
States with the toughest gun laws

24. Indiana

Grade: D-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

T-23. North Carolina

Grade: D-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)

T-23. New Hampshire

Grade: D

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

T-21. Virginia

Grade: D

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

T-21. Ohio

Grade: D

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

20. Nebraska

Grade: D

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via Getty Images)

19. Wisconsin

Grade: C-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo by John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images)

18. Nevada

Grade: C-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via Getty Images)

T-16. Michigan

Grade: C

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via Getty Images)

T-16. Iowa

Grade: C

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo by Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

15. Oregon

Grade: C

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

14. Colorado

Grade: C

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo)

13. Pennsylvania

Grade: C

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

12. Minnesota

Grade: C+

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via AOL)

11. Delaware

Grade: B

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via Getty Images)

10. Washington

Grade: B

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via Getty Images)

9. Rhode Island

Grade: B+

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo by Kenneth C. Zirkel via Getty Images)

8. Illinois

Grade: B+

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via REUTERS/Jim Young)

7. Hawaii

Grade: A-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via Getty Images)

T-5. New York

Grade: A-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

T-5. Maryland

Grade: A-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo credit BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

4. Massachusetts

Grade: A-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via Getty Images)

3. New Jersey

Grade: A-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo by Mark Makela for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

2. Connecticut

Grade: A-

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo via Getty Images)

1. California

Grade: A

Source: gunlawscorecard.org

(Photo credit MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

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Visa and MasterCard also suspended payments and donations to WikiLeaks in 2010 after the website published hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables. MasterCard argued at the time that company rules prohibited customers from "directly or indirectly engaging in or facilitating any action that is illegal."

Sorkin acknowledged the idea may be a "pipe dream," and that at least two executives noted that they feared the reaction of the National Rifle Association and worried for their employees' safety.

"None of this is a panacea. But it's a start. It takes leadership and courage — exactly what these executives say they have," Sorkin wrote. "If they don't want to back up their words with actions, the next time there's a school shooting that prompts a conversation about gun companies, it should also include the financial complex that supports them."

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