Credit card firms to implement gun purchase tracking in California
02/14/2024 // News Editors // Views

Major credit card companies are set to introduce a new merchant code for tracking firearm and ammunition purchases in California, sparking debate among Second Amendment advocates and gun control proponents.

American Express, Visa, and Mastercard are in the process of implementing a new merchant category code for gun shops, as reported by CBS News. This initiative is in response to a California statute that mandates the ability for financial institutions to monitor and report specific gun transactions considered suspicious to law enforcement agencies. This development has sparked concern among Second Amendment advocates, who argue that it could infringe upon the rights of legitimate gun owners.

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Historically, firearm retailers have been grouped under a broader category that includes various types of retailers, such as sporting goods stores. The decision to create a unique code for gun sales was initially agreed upon by these credit card giants but was subsequently paused due to pushback from gun rights proponents.

Proponents of gun control are optimistic that this measure will aid in the prevention of gun-related crimes by enabling the detection of potentially illicit purchases. This mechanism is likened to existing practices where banks and credit unions report suspected cases of identity theft or financing related to terrorism to the authorities.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) sanctioned this specific code in 2022, paving the way for its adoption. Following this, California legislated the requirement for firearm retailers to integrate this code by May 2025. Executives from the credit card firms have assured congressional Democrats of their compliance with this timeline.

The introduction of this merchant code has led to legislative actions in several Republican-led states, with seven states enacting laws to prohibit its use and nine others contemplating similar measures. Critics, like Stephen Gutowski, founder of The Reload and a recognized authority on firearms, caution that such reporting requirements could unjustifiably cast suspicion on lawful gun purchasers, depending on the criteria used for flagging transactions as suspicious.

Requests for comments from Visa, American Express, and Mastercard have not yet received responses.

For more detailed information, please refer to the original reporting by CBS News on the development of a new merchant code for firearm and ammunition stores by major credit card companies. Additional context on the initial agreement and subsequent halt of this effort can be found in previous reporting by the Daily Caller, with further insights on the code’s approval by the ISO and related legislative responses across various states.

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