Gun rights advocates are outraged at a recent decision by major credit card companies to put gun sales into a new tracking category, calling the move an erosion of the Second Amendment.
Major credit card companies, including Mastercard, Visa and American Express, announced last week that they would create a new coding system for all firearms purchases in the US.
The move is a win for gun control advocates who argue that the system will help track suspicious purches which could lead to mass shootings. They argued that Uvalde elementary school gunman Salvador Ramos purchased his weapon using a bank card. Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock spent $95,000 on guns in the year before the shooting that killed 60 people in 2017.
The policy is expected to start in the coming months.
But the NRA said the policy was ‘anti-gun’ and would target law-abiding Americans who are legally allowed to purchase weapons.
‘The industry’s decision to create a firearm-specific code is nothing more than capitulation to anti-gun politicians and activists bent on eroding the rights of law-abiding Americans, one transaction at a time,’ spokesman Lars Dalseide said.
‘This is not about tracking or prevention or any virtuous motivation – it’s about creating a national registry of gun owners.’
Visa, Master Card and American Express will start categorizing sales at American gun shops differently than other retail outlets in an effort to track suspicious purchases
On Friday, the International Organization for Standardization gave the thumbs up for the new code, bowing to pressure from New York politicians and gun-control groups who said that it is an essential early-warning tool to flagging suspicious gun buys.
Visa, the world’s largest payment processor, announced Saturday that it would follow Master Card and American Express to take up the policy that creates a new merchant category for US gun shops, to separate pistol and rifle sales from other retail groupings.
‘Following ISO’s decision to establish a new merchant category code, Visa will proceed with next steps, while ensuring we protect all legal commerce on the Visa network in accordance with our long-standing rules,’ Visa said in a statement.
Mastercard said it would support lawful purchases while protecting the privacy and decisions of individual cardholders.
‘This is exactly how we would manage the process for any other appropriate MCC, like a bicycle shop or sporting goods store.’
Credit card companies track sales by sector such as grocery stores and restaurants, but guns have been included in a general retail category up to now. The code would not say what the buyer purchases, only where the sales are made.
Second Amendment rights advocates said it vilifies gun owners.
‘Criminals and gang bangers don’t use credit cards to buy guns and ammo. Just another way of vilifying law abiding citizens,’ gun rights activist Cesar Cordova tweeted on Monday.
‘If they can’t take your rights away by force of government, they’ll do it through their woke corporations instead,’ Dave Kellogg, of Indianapolis, Indiana, tweeted.
Several Second Amendment advocates tweeted that they would be paying cash in the future to circumvent the measure.
Others questioned whether how effective the measure would be curbing criminal gun sales.
‘So it’s really just about controlling legal gun purchases,’ Twitter user, Magnolia Peach, of Atlanta, Georgia, posted. ‘I’m not a criminal mastermind, but I don’t think many illegal gun sales or other criminal gun purchases are done with a Visa platinum card with a cute picture of a dog as the background.’
Former President Donald Trump, pictured here with NRA president Wayne LaPierre, spoke at the gun group’s Houston convention over the summer
Before the decision was made by credit card companies, several top U.S. pension funds including those for government workers in New York City and California had submitted shareholder resolutions asking payment companies to weigh in on the issue.
‘When you buy an airline ticket or pay for your groceries, your credit card company has a special code for those retailers. It’s just common sense that we have the same policies in place for gun and ammunition stores,’ New York City Mayor Eric Adams said.
The new policy was initiated by Amalgamated Bank in New York City in coordination with the anti-gun violence group Guns Down America.
The financial institution, founded by a textile workers union, proposed the change to the ISO in the spring, but there was resistance by Visa and Master Card, according to The New York Times.
‘We are grateful that the financial sector has stopped stalling and finally understands the problem, which is that credit card purchases have consistently been involved in some of our nation’s worst mass shootings. Credit card companies have rules to stop fraud and human trafficking. This common-sense decision means the same rules will apply to guns, making it easier to stop illegal firearms-related activity,’ Igor Volsky, founder and executive director of Guns Down America, said.
Master Card officials told the paper earlier this year that it wasn’t their battle to fight.
‘Our position remains the same,’ he added. ‘The issue of gun violence needs to be addressed and it is the responsibility of elected officials to enact meaningful policies to address this issue.’
Amalgamated Bank reapplied for the change in policy recently and the Retail Management Group sub-committee had a meeting to adopt the measure on September 7, but couldn’t come to an agreement, according to the ISO.
It was kicked up the the standards group leadership which adopted the measure.
Compliance with industry standards are voluntary unless compliance with ISO standards are written into law.
Because the decision was just made last week, the organization said it had no timeline for when the policy will be officially updated.
Mastercard indicated that it would implement the policy soon.
‘This is exactly how we would manage the process for any other appropriate M.C.C., like a bicycle shop or sporting goods store,’ spokesman Seth Eisen told the Times.
American Express also indicted that it would implement the coding system in the near future, saying in a statement that it was ‘focused on ensuring that we have the right controls in place to meet our regulatory and fiduciary responsibilities, as well as prevent illegal activity on our network’.
The argument for more gun control has been sparked by several mass shootings this year, including at a Uvalde, Texas elementary school that killed 19 children and two teachers. Gunman Salvador Ramos purchased the weapon that he used in the Uvalde shooting with a bank card.
Stephen Paddock, who killed 60 people and wounded 413 others in 2017 in Las Vegas, spent $95,000 on guns in the year before the shooting, according to a Times investigation. Not all of those purchases were through credit cards.
U.S. President Joe Biden has called for Congress to pass an assault weapons ban as well as $37 billion for crime prevention programs, with $13 billion to hire and train an additional 100,000 police officers over the next five years.