Last week, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) declared that it would create distinct “merchant category codes” for firearm and ammunition purchases.
Credit card companies — specifically Visa, MasterCard, and American Express — have all agreed to follow through with the ISO’s announcement.
“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 obtained by The Associated Press.
Prior to this change, products purchased from FFLs were categorized as “general merchandise.”
Gun-control activists contend that these new codes will allow financial institutions to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.
“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 in a press release.
“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,” he added.
Given that most criminals obtain their firearms via illegal means (black market, theft, straw purchasers) it’s not clear what benefit, if any, these codes will actually provide.
As former NYPD Detective David Chianese told Fox News, in a 2020 article examining how criminals get their guns, “The majority of firearms used in criminal activity are obtained illegally. Stricter or additional gun laws do not reduce gun violence.”
New York Times: "Creating the merchant code is only the beginning. Here’s what will need to happen next for it to help identify suspicious purchases" https://t.co/tz7xN9ejbd pic.twitter.com/nGxlpS7omN— Firearms Policy Coalition (@gunpolicy) September 12, 2022
Erich Pratt, the Senior Vice President of Gun Owners of America, was also critical of the move as a means to catch criminals.
“This is just the latest attempt by anti-gun lunatic activists to pressure corporations into collecting their own business partners’ data in a way that threatens their privacy, as well as the privacy of the millions of customers who rely on these services for electronic transactions each year,” said Pratt in a press release.
“Make no mistake, if the credit card companies were willing to so quickly cave on this demand, the mob will only demand more, leading us down a dark path where guns and ammo transactions, which are protected by the Second Amendment, are frequently halted and consistently flagged for the authorities,” he continued.
What are your thoughts about these new “merchant category codes”?