Recently, major credit cards companies received blowback about tracking gun purchases, and have decided to suspend the program.
Tracking Firearm Purchases Is Put On Hold
Visa and Mastercard have put a hold on their efforts to monitor purchases of firearms and ammunition following opposition from supporters and advocates of gun rights.
In 2022, these payment processing companies had declared their intention to implement the merchant category code recently introduced by the International Organization for Standardization, which would enable them to more effectively monitor the sale of firearms and ammunition at gun stores.
This decision was met with disapproval from supporters of gun rights, prompting Republican lawmakers and attorneys general to take legal action.
Bloomberg reports that Visa and Mastercard, which are the largest payment processors in the world, have decided to halt their adoption of the new merchant category code in light of strong opposition and the introduction of legislation by several states that would prohibit such monitoring.
Bumps in the Road
“There are bills advancing in several states related to the use of this new code. If passed, the result will be an inconsistency in how this ISO standard could be applied by merchants, issuers, acquirers and networks,” a spokesman for Visa told Bloomberg.
“It’s for that reason that we have decided to pause work on the implementation of the firearms-specific MCC.”
In September, almost 20 Republican attorneys general wrote a letter to Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, expressing their concerns over the proposed implementation of the new merchant category code and the monitoring of firearms and ammunition purchases.
Victory for Gun Owners
Second Amendment supporters hailed the recent announcement as a victory for gun rights.
“Well done, it’s about time. US companies should not be taking orders from international NGOs to target legal industries,” said Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN). “This politicization of our financial sector must stop.”
The state prosecutors cautioned the companies that such tracking could potentially violate Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
“Categorizing the constitutionally protected right to purchase firearms unfairly singles out law-abiding merchants and consumers alike,” the attorneys general wrote. “We will marshal the full scope of our lawful authority to protect our citizens and consumers from unlawful attempts to undermine their constitutional rights.”
Republican lawmakers in Congress shared similar apprehensions, arguing that the implementation of the new merchant category code could serve as a loophole for creating a gun registry that would be monitored by private companies instead of the federal government.
They expressed concerns over the potential infringement of the Second Amendment rights of gun owners and the possibility of their personal information being mishandled or leaked.
“Credit card companies like @Visa, @Mastercard, and @AmericanExpress can and should do more to help stop mass shootings,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) tweeted on September 6, adding that she is “urging these companies to step up and help identify suspicious purchases to prevent gun violence.”
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