Firearms are on display at Bob’s Little Sport Gun Shop in Glassboro, New Jersey, United States on May 26, 2022.
Tayfun Coskun | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Gun law advocates are praising the decision to adopt a new sales code for gun store transactions, a move they called for to help flag suspicious purchases.
Last week, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which sets standards for payment transactions, approved a special merchant code for credit and debit card transactions at US gun stores. Then over the weekend, Visa, MasterCardand American Express they said they will start using the new code.
John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said the move is a critical first step in giving banks and credit card companies the tools they need to spot dangerous gun buying trends — like a domestic extremist building an arsenal – and report them to law enforcement.
A merchant category code indicates the types of services or goods sold to consumers. Previously, gun store sales were categorized as “regular goods”.
The attorneys general of New York and California and Massachusetts Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., were among other notable figures supporting the effort. In New York, dozens of lawmakers sent letters to leaders of major credit card companies urging them to adopt the code.
“When you buy a plane ticket or pay for your groceries, your credit card company has a special code for those sellers. It’s just common sense that we have the same policy for gun and ammunition stores,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams. he told the Associated Press over the weekend.
The National Rifle Association said in a statement that the move “is nothing more than a capitulation to politicians and anti-gun activists seeking to erode the rights of law-abiding Americans, one transaction at a time.”
“This is not about surveillance or prevention or any virtuous motivation — it is about creating a national gun registry,” the statement said.
Mastercard said it will work to protect “all legitimate commerce” and “the privacy and decisions of individual cardholders” on its networks. American Express and Visa, the world’s largest payment processor, have also committed to implementing the new code.
“Following ISO’s decision to introduce a new merchant category code, Visa will continue to take the next steps, ensuring that we protect all legitimate commerce on the Visa network in accordance with our long-standing rules,” Visa said in a statement.
“These new business codes will help banks and financial institutions track suspicious and potentially illegal gun purchases,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, which advocates for public measures that can protect people from gun violence.
Amalgamated Bank and the California Teachers Retirement Fund were also among those heavily promoting the new code.
IN Press Release Amalgamated Bank President and CEO Priscilla Sims Brown said Friday that the code “will allow us to fully comply with our obligation to report suspicious activity and illegal gun sales to authorities without blocking or impeding legal gun sales.”
Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods, both of which allow gun sales in some of their U.S. stores, did not respond to requests for comment Monday.