U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Gun grabbers are grinning over the bombshell decision by three major credit card institutions—MasterCard, Visa and American Express—to adopt a new “merchant category code” approved Sept. 9 by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to monitor gun purchases completed with credit cards.
The announcement has set off alarms throughout the firearms community, and the National Rifle Association issued a statement declaring, “The ISO’s decision to create a firearm specific code is nothing more than a capitulation to anti-gun politicians and activists bent on eroding the rights of law-abiding Americans one transaction at a time,” quoted by Business Insider.
On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) sent a letter to the CEOs of all three credit card entities—Alfred F. Kelly, Jr. at Visa, Michael Miebach at MasterCard and Stephen Squeri at American Express—asserting, “This new system is ripe for abuse and brings to mind similar policies of Big Tech companies and payment processors that have targeted law-abiding Americans for engaging in constitutionally protected activities. I urge you to immediately reverse course.”
“Too often,” Hawley wrote, “companies have abused their market power to target the constitutional rights of conservatives and others with minority viewpoints… Your proposal to track firearm-related purchases further threatens Americans who are simply exercising their constitutional rights.”
Hawley told the three executives forcefully he “will oppose all attempts to undermine the Second Amendment’s protections,” whether attempted by the federal government “or powerful corporations seeking to ostracize citizens for exercising their rights.”
Don’t be surprised if this controversial move comes up during the Sept. 30-Oct. 2 Gun Rights Policy Conference in Dallas at the end of this month. Co-sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, this is the 37th annual conference, slated at the Westin Dallas-Fort Worth Airport hotel, and will also be on multiple virtual platforms, including YouTube and Facebook. The theme of this year’s event is “Target Victory,” and with the release of this report card, that may be a goal within reach.
The agenda is being finalized, with more than 70 speakers expected. GRPC annually brings together many of the top minds in the Second Amendment community for a weekend of panel discussions and detailed reports on legislation, legal activities, media and more.
Anti-gun Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) issued a press release touting their effort to pressure the credit card firms via letters in which they wrote, “A new MCC code could make it easier for financial institutions to monitor certain types of suspicious activities including straw purchases and unlawful bulk purchases that could be used in the commission of domestic terrorist acts or gun trafficking schemes. Such coordination between financial institutions and law enforcement has been instrumental in efforts across the federal government to identify and prevent illicit activity.”
In their joint release, Warren asserted, “Financial institutions and payment networks, such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express can and should do everything they can to help law enforcement prevent some mass shootings by identifying suspicious gun purchases through the implementation of this new code.”
“By creating a new MCC for gun and ammunition retailers, credit card companies and financial institutions can better monitor suspicious activity, like straw purchases, and, in turn, help save lives,” Dean added.
But is this sort of monitoring an invasion of gun owner privacy? It sure looks that way, according to critics.
Writing at The Outdoor Wire, editor and veteran journalist Jim Shepherd put it bluntly: “On Friday, another shot was fired – quietly- at the gun industry. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), voted to create a ‘special code’ for gun stores to use when processing credit and debit card transactions. Proponents of the move are quick to point out that other business categories already have these categories.
“That may be true,” Shepherd observed, “but this isn’t being done as a simple business move. It’s a calculated move to circumvent regulations preventing federal tracking of gun sales.”
If anyone believes this is just a business move having nothing to do with gun control, read the news reports.
- Business Insider reported, “Visa, MasterCard, and American Express will use a new code for gun shop purchases in US stores in a win for gun control advocates.”
- Reuters said, “An international standards body has approved creation of a merchant code for gun retailers, a representative said on Friday, following pressure from activists who say it will help track suspicious weapons purchases.”
- “Gun control advocates had gained significant wins on this front in recent weeks,” the Associated Press noted. “New York City officials and pension funds had pressured the ISO and banks to adopt this code.”
As defined by Investopedia, “Merchant category codes (MCCs) are four-digit numbers that a credit card issuer uses to categorize the transactions consumers complete using a particular card. Payment brands use merchant category codes to classify merchants and businesses by the type of goods or services provided in order to track and restrict transactions.
“MCCs can be used for tax reporting, interchange promotion, and gathering information about cardholder purchasing behavior,” Investopedia said.
Just how serious a problem this may become can be ascertained simply by reading what the gun prohibition lobby is saying in their own prepared statements.
“Today’s announcement is a critical first step towards giving banks and credit card companies the tools they need to recognize dangerous firearm purchasing trends – like a domestic extremist building up an arsenal — and report them to law enforcement,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “But this is only the first step. Now it’s vital that merchants and banks implement this code swiftly, before more guns end up in the wrong hands.”
“These new merchant codes will help banks and financial institutions track suspicious and potentially illegal gun purchases,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “It takes all of us to tackle our gun violence epidemic which is why we’re grateful for Amalgamated Bank’s leadership in this effort and call for all other banks and financial institutions to follow suit.”
Notice, Feinblatt called this a “critical first step,” meaning other moves are anticipated. Traditionally, the gun control movement has always considered each of their victories to be a “first step.”
About Dave Workman