Lawmakers Saying ‘Not so fast’ on Credit Card Gun Store Tracking Code

Credit cards splayed out.
(Photo: NSSF)

By Larry Keane

Amalgamated Bank CEO Priscilla Sims Brown isn’t shy about catering to Democratic politics and progressive causes. The New York Post even described her as “the Left’s private banker.”

Sims Brown is especially proud of herself after she lobbied the main international credit card standards organization to create a special tracking code for gun store purchases. She wants to know who’s buying what and why. It’s a ruse under the guise of stopping criminals from misusing firearms.

Fortunately for law-abiding Americans who support the Second Amendment, lawmakers at the state and federal level are saying “Not so fast,” and proposing legislation to block the tracking of such lawful purchases.

What’s In Your Shopping Cart?

Sims Brown’s goal is to have credit cards implement a special code to track purchases made by law-abiding Americans at firearm retail stores. She urged the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to create a Merchant Category Code (MCC) and they acquiesced. She spoke with New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin – a proponent of the scheme – and admitted the code is only the beginning. “We’re at the very early stages of this –,” Sims Brown told Sorkin. “But as this is implemented, those scenarios will be used.”

The “scenarios” include “detection scenarios” in which a purchase prompts a bank to file a Suspicious Activity Report to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). There have been no guidelines on what any of that means or what purchases would be flagged. That’s because the MCC won’t identify what is in the customer’s shopping basket. The customer could have passed an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) verification to lawfully buy a firearm and ammunition. Or the purchase could be for camping supplies, waders, decoys, blinds and other outdoor gear for a hunting trip. The total cost could be flagged as “suspicious” since it might be an outlier on a customer’s purchase history.

Bloomberg News – owned by gun control advocate Michael Bloomberg – even threw cold water on the idea, saying the code wouldn’t work. “The payment network and its banking partners would have no idea if a gun-store customer is purchasing…a rifle or safety equipment.”

Credit Card CEOs Respond

The new MCC for gun store purchases was approved in September of last year so the implementation process is still under development. Still, some of the CEOs at major credit card companies are speaking up.

Discover announced it will begin using the gun store-specific code in April, becoming the first major credit card company to confirm they’ll use the code. Discover has the smallest market share of the four major credit card companies by far at about four percent and other estimates put it at just two percent, but the move is still significant.

In announcing they will use the code, a Discover spokesperson was coy. “We remain focused on continuing to protect and support lawful purchases on our network while protecting the privacy of cardholders,” said a statement. “We were following the industry for consistent implementation.”

The Discover spokesperson also let it slip that other credit card companies will roll out their MCC gun store codes. That includes Visa’s CEO Al Kelly. Kelly explained that the new codes won’t be as effective in flagging purchases as antigun activists have claimed.

SEE ALSO: Discover Becomes First Gun-Store Tracking Credit Card

“If [Visa’s Chief Communications Officer] K.C. Kavanagh goes into a gun store and buys three thermoses and a tent, and you go in and buy a rifle and five rounds of ammunition, all I know is you both went to the same gun store… But I don’t know what you bought,” Kelly said.

On Visa’s website, a statement reads, “Many are advocating the use of MCCs to track gun sales as a potential tool in combating gun violence. That’s not what merchant codes are designed for, nor should they be.”

Mastercard and American Express have yet to comment in more specifics about their plans to implement the tracking code.

Legislative Protection

There’s good news for supporters of the Second Amendment and those concerned about government agencies tracking their completely lawful behavior. Mississippi, West Virginia and Florida are leading the way with legislation to block the tracking scheme.

In Mississippi, a bill is pending to preclude the use of the gun store MCC. House Bill 1110 was already approved overwhelmingly by the Mississippi House of Representatives, 87-26. The bill is expected to move swiftly through the state Senate.

In Florida, the Republican-controlled Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved Senate Bill 214 that would target yet-to-be-enacted plans by some credit-card companies to create a gun store MCC. That bill would even fine credit card companies up to $10,000 per violation.

In West Virginia, Republican state Treasurer Riley Moore spoke of efforts to block the code as well, praising the House of Delegates for approving legislation that would ban any credit card company that tracks gun and ammunition purchases from bidding on state contracts.

There is also a buzz in Washington, D.C., as efforts to block the tracking code on a federal level are gaining steam, even as Members of Congress and U.S. Senators back other efforts to ensure financial companies cannot discriminate against the lawful and Constitutionally-protected firearm industry.

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) introduced the Firearm Industry Nondiscrimination (FIND) Act that would end the ability of corporate entities from profiting from taxpayer-funded federal contracts while discriminating against a constitutionally-protected industry at the same time. The same legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year by U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.).

Also in the upper chamber, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) introduced the Fair Access to Banking Act, S. 293. That bill would work to end the discriminatory lending practices of major banking institutions that seek to circumvent the legislative process and set social policy from the boardroom.

As these legislative efforts continue to block boardroom gun control, NSSF will be watching closely.

Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.

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  • Dur Poiguy March 6, 2023, 1:05 pm

    I will refuse to buy from any merchant allowing this and will cut up any credit card subscribing to this backdoor gun tracking scheme. What right do these a**holes have to monitor law abiding citizens. The biggest problem with guns and criminals is the lazy bureaucrats that fail to do their job and duty to enforce the thousands of gun laws already on the books. How many times do we a criminal commiting ANOTHER CRIME when they should have been in jail for all the other crimes they were already convicted of? The DOD does not report bad discharges to the FBI NICIS system as the are supposed to, as well as some states. The FBI is terrible about acting on potential shooter intell as are many LE agencies. Enforce the laws on the books and lock up criminals and get mental cases into institutions.

  • DIYinSTL March 6, 2023, 12:22 pm

    I will suggest to my local FFLs that they become school supply stores. Pencils for 25 cents each. Buy a pencil and get 25 cents off the price of a firearm or a box of ammo.

  • Gerald Ulrich March 6, 2023, 10:18 am

    I’ve communicated with Discover. I’ve told them why we will be parting ways.
    I like Discover. I don’t like spies, and there are too many already. I wish
    I thought someone really cared what I thought.

  • Robert Lee March 6, 2023, 9:12 am

    Had a Discover card for many years. Called and canceled. Go woke, go broke.

    • Former democ-Rat Turned Republican After Taking Red Pill! March 6, 2023, 2:52 pm

      That’s exactly what I’m doing…the hell with these woke p.o.s. corporations…

  • John McDowell March 6, 2023, 9:02 am

    CASH!!!! I am going to cancel my Discover Card, Send a signal . Oh wait, other Cards are thinking about it ? Sure, send a signal. CASH.

  • jerry March 3, 2023, 3:29 pm

    I’m still waiting for a gun-friendly credit card company to start up or a gun-friendly pay pal (spelled this way to pass review). Where are all the conservative or Republican billionaires? Answer: there are very few and they don’t compare to the unlimited assets of Bloomberg, Soros, Gates, Bezos, Buffet and a couple more. They are a trillionaire cabal against us. Plus, they seem to have many human assets in powerful law enforcement and military positions. Please open your wallets and give to conservative organizations. Don’t buy the propaganda that the NRA is corrupt. Anyway, there are ten more organizations that will go to bat for us. I can name five right now but you can find your own, right? Stay safe.

  • Michael W Emerson March 3, 2023, 8:12 am

    I don’t believe all the politicians and anti gun really believe the mass killings will stop or slow by a registry. Your in a fantasy world if you think most criminals buy legally. What’s the statistics of legal owners vs criminals. I’ll wait!

  • Diane C Page March 3, 2023, 7:44 am

    I believe that any credit card company that tracks or in any way tries to monitor gun sales to law abiding customers should be put out of business. I know that if my credit card company institutes any such policy including “special codes” will lose my business instantly and we should all search for another credit card company and discard their card immediately. Let’s vote with our own money and don’t wait for our weak and bought politicians to do a damn thing to prevent this regardless of what they say.

    • A Guy Named Jay March 6, 2023, 7:52 am

      Do you realize there are only 4 major credit card companies- Visa, MasterCard, Amex, & Discover? Not that I support this kind of overreach, but if they all adopt this practice what are you going to do? How are you going to travel? Make an online purchase? The practicality of getting rid of credit cards completely is almost nonexistent.

  • Gary Nelson March 3, 2023, 6:54 am

    If enough people drop these cards as I will, the Credit Card Companies will wake up. I really don’t think it will pass a constitutional challenge. I don’t really don’t need a credit card. It is just handy…

  • Blue Dog (he/him) March 2, 2023, 10:41 am

    This is an interesting idea but I don’t think in its current form, this code will be an effective tool. These credit card companies could become an effective choke point around which stakeholders could operate to help track and maybe even proactively recognise or predict mass shooters before they act. I live in a small town and the only firearm retailer in my town is a farm and ranch store. Am I buying a chicken coop or an assault rifle? When credit cards can tell the difference, then this code will be an effective tool. The Walmart in my town doesn’t handle firearms but several Walmarts in nearby towns do. Would all Walmarts get this code or just the ones that sell firearms? Will I be flagged for buying three dozen eggs at one of those Walmarts? My local Walmart does sell ammo, does that qualify for this code or is that a different one?

    It needs work but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

    • Fal Phil March 3, 2023, 10:50 am

      Good luck finding a real “assault rifle” in you average gun store.

    • The Ghostman March 4, 2023, 12:19 pm

      Yes. According to the article it would not only flag your purchase, but will also cause a “suspicious activity” file be created from your purchase. Doesn’t matter what it is. You could then expect a “visit” from your local/state LEOS and possibly anything from an anonymous “red flag” placed on you, credit cards raising your rates, and problems with anything that checks your credit rating. Could lead to you not being able to get a loan for a car, a mortgage for a house, a re-finance loan, and could even make you lose out on employment opportunities, plus-you could lose your job.
      It doesn’t need work, it needs to be outlawed and those who proposed it charged with conspiracy to invade privacy, conspiracy to violate civil rights, and conspiracy to discriminate against US citizens.
      On the day this is implemented I see thousands of stores put up signs “We No Longer Accept Discover Cards!”.

    • Hondo March 6, 2023, 10:05 am

      So says bluedouche it/clown, why are you such a simpleton so willing to shit on other people rights?

  • paul I'll call you what I want/1st Amendment March 1, 2023, 11:44 am

    Odd how this was made for our country only…… Again Sims brown and any law maker should be tried for treason for violating and subverting the constitution by means of foreign aid!

  • survivor50 March 1, 2023, 9:22 am

    The ” International Organization for Standardization (ISO) ” and OTHER Non Governmental Organizations ( NGO ) are running BANKS … and are European Socialists wanting to control you HERE !!!

    I believer we LEFT Europe for a SIMILAR REASON a couple of hundred years ago, as THIS one !!!


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