Visa, Mastercard, AmEx to start categorizing gun shop sales

Keywords Retail

Payment processor Visa Inc. said Saturday that it plans to start separately categorizing sales at gun shops, a major win for gun control advocates who say it will help better track suspicious surges of gun sales that could be a prelude to a mass shooting.

But the decision by Visa, the world’s largest payment processor, will likely provoke the ire of gun rights advocates and gun lobbyists, who have argued that categorizing gun sales would unfairly flag an industry when most sales do not lead to mass shootings. It joins Mastercard and American Express, which also said they plan to move forward with categorizing gun shop sales.

Visa said it would adopt the International Organization for Standardization’s new merchant code for gun sales, which was announced on Friday. Until Friday, gun store sales were considered “general merchandise.”

“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,” the payment processor said in a statement.

Visa’s adoption is significant as the largest payment network, and with Mastercard and AmeEx, will likely put pressure on the banks as the card issuers to adopt the standard as well. Visa acts as a middleman between merchants and banks, and it will be up to banks to decide whether they will allow sales at gun stores to happen on their issued cards.

Gun control advocates had gained significant wins on this front in recent weeks. New York City officials and pension funds had pressured the ISO and banks to adopt this code.

Two of the country’s largest public pension funds, in California and New York, have been pressing the country’s largest credit card firms to establish sales codes specifically for firearm-related sales that could flag suspicious purchases or more easily trace how guns and ammunition are sold.

Merchant category codes now exist for almost every kind of purchase, including those made at supermarkets, clothing stores, coffee shops and many other retailers.

“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,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a former police captain who blames the proliferation of guns for his city’s deadly violence.

The city’s comptroller, Brad Lander, said it made moral and financial sense as a tool to push back against gun violence.

“Unfortunately, the credit card companies have failed to support this simple, practical, potentially lifesaving tool. The time has come for them to do so,” Lander said recently, before Visa and others had adopted the move.

Lander is a trustee of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, Teachers’ Retirement System and Board of Education Retirement System — which together own 667,200 shares in American Express valued at approximately $92.49 million; 1.1 million shares in MasterCard valued at approximately $347.59 million; and 1.85 million shares in Visa valued at approximately $363.86 million.

The pension funds and gun control advocates argue that creating a merchant category code for standalone firearm and ammunition stores could aid in the battle against gun violence. A week before the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where 49 people died after a shooter opened fire in 2016, the assailant used credit cards to buy more than $26,000 worth of guns and ammunition, including purchases at a stand-alone gun retailer.

Gun rights advocates argue that tracking sales at gun stores would unfairly target legal gun purchases, since merchant codes just track the type of merchant where the credit or debit card is used, not the actual items purchased. A sale of a gun safe, worth thousands of dollars and an item considered part of responsible gun ownership, could be seen as a just a large purchase at a gun shop.

“The (industry’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,” said Lars Dalseide, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association.

Over the years, public pension funds have used their extensive investment portfolios to influence public policy and the market place.

The California teacher’s fund, the second largest pension fund in the country, has long taken aim on the gun industry. It has divested its holdings from gun manufacturers and has sought to persuade some retailers from selling guns.

Four years ago, the teacher’s fund made guns a key initiative. It called for background checks and called on retailers “monitor irregularities at the point of sale, to record all firearm sales, to audit firearms inventory on a regular basis, and to proactively assist law enforcement.”

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6 thoughts on “Visa, Mastercard, AmEx to start categorizing gun shop sales

  1. The 2nd Amendment only says the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. Tracking the types of firearms-related purchases is in no way an infringement (but then again, neither would the establishment of a federal database of firearms purchases and registrations, which does not currently exist due to the gun lobby’s misplaced fears that it would lead to federal gun confiscations).

    1. This is absolutely an attempt to apply certain purchases associated political dissidence to criminality, and it will inevitably–if unchecked–get calibrated to a person’s credit rating. In other words, Chinese Social Credit.

      NPCs, whose capacity for independent thought does not extend beyond what the legacy media tells him, think this will help curb crime in our lawless urban cesspools. It won’t, of course–most of those crimes are from illegally obtained firearms that will evade credit card purchases and background checks. The guns are either stolen or given to the criminals, to evade detection.
      But then, the people pressuring Visa, Mastercard to track these purchases don’t REALLY care about violence in urban America. They live behind gates with hired security. If they cared about the criminality caused by illegally obtained firearms used in drug-running among criminal gangs, they would have done something about this long ago. Instead, these are the exact people being released after posting $500 bail. Our urban cesspools have been the centers of gun crime for the last 60 years. Still are.

      No…this is about punishing political dissent: law-abiding citizens who purchase guns legally, who undergo gun safety courses, who take and pass the criminal background checks (because they have no criminal background), but might have attended an ultra MAGA rally that came into town.

      The irony of it all: interest in handguns has skyrocketed in the last 3 years since a certain political party controlling 90% of big cities has decided to either overtly defund police or told them to stop policing “minor” offenses: like reckless driving in high pedestrian areas, shoplifting from Neiman Marcus, or randomly punching elderly people because the thugs don’t like their race. You know, little things like that. And the citizenry, less confident that the police will be protecting them, recognize that firearm ownership is the only true way to protect themselves.

  2. More chasing remote symptoms while no effort is being made to solve the real problems with all the shootings. 99.999% of shootings are with hand guns, most of which are in the black community, most are in the 14-25 year age group, who don’t use credit cards. Maybe that 0.00001% that does use credit cards to pull off mentally Ill and emotionally I’ll shootings, might be caught if some fantasy network of communication between sales and law enforcement occurs. Which so far never has!
    This credit card move is Another step at the gullible believing liberal leadership will help them while really taking them down a road of big brother control.

  3. Maybe the hard core 2A people will think twice trying to add to their arsenal using a credit card. At least it is a reasonable step in the right direction.

    But the other comment was right. We are just chasing the symptoms, but their diagnosis was wrong. The true problem is the country is drowning in guns. Every other country in the developed world has figured out that more guns leads to more gun violence but not the good old USA.

    Thanks to great propaganda and great lobbying by an ever more profitable gun industry, I predict that we are getting to the point that soon, any gathering is going to result in shots fired and people will still be screaming that we need more guns.

    1. Quote: The true problem is the country is drowning in guns.

      Wrong, Dan M., but nice try. The true problem is that the country is drowning in a disrespect for life…and where do you think that came from?

  4. Regarding the original topic: So purchasers will start paying with cash rather than using their credit cards. Big deal…but that will help the underground, cash-only economy grow. So this silly woke idea won’t solve any problems but will exacerbate others.

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