California to Introduce New Gun Purchasing Code for Credit Card Networks

Major credit card retailers are creating a separate merchant category code (MCC) for firearms and ammunition retailers to comply with a California law that would allow banks to potentially track suspicious gun purchases and report them to law enforcement.

The California law, AB 1587, requires a payment card network to model the MCC after one enacted by the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization in 2022 and requires retailers that primarily sell firearms to adopt it by May 1, 2025. Since the IOS’ decision, legislation in several states to restrict the use of the MCC for firearms retailers led to Visa, Mastercard and American Express to pause implementation of the code.

Retailers are assigned merchant codes based on the goods they sell, and the codes allow banks and credit card companies to detect purchasing patterns. Gun shops are grouped with other types of retailers, such as sporting goods stores.

Last month, executives from Visa, Mastercard and American Express wrote to congressional Democrats assuring them the code would be available to retailers in California by the May 2025 deadline, CBS News reported Monday.

“The applicable standalone merchants in California primarily engaged in the sale of firearms will be required to utilize the code,” wrote Mastercard executive Tucker Foote, according to CBS News.

Although an MCC for firearm and ammunition sellers would yield data that shows a transaction was made at a gun store, CBS News reported the credit card companies said the code would not provide details about the customer or insight into individual items that were purchased.

“The concern among gun owners is that this data would be collected and used to create a de facto gun registry,” said Dave Workman, a spokesman for the Second Amendment Foundation, in an email to Newsmax. “They also consider it an egregious violation of privacy rights. Most gun owners feel it is nobody’s business what they purchase, and when this first became an issue, many gun owners simply started doing straight cash transactions.”

In the first half of last year, seven Republican-led states – Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Texas, and West Virginia – adopted legislation prohibiting or discouraging use of the firearms retailer MCC. Similar legislation reportedly is being considered in Georgia, New Jersey, and Utah, although Colorado is mulling legislation like California’s.

“The sooner credit card companies and banks begin using the new [merchant code] for gun retailers and tracking suspicious gun purchases, the more mass shootings we will have a shot at preventing before they occur,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said in a statement, according to CBS News.

Michael Katz

Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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