The anti-gunner lobby just scored another significant victory after its pressure campaign against financial institutions has finally borne some fruit. Credit card companies have agreed to adopt standards for gun purchases that will essentially amount to a de facto gun registry.
Visa, Mastercard, and American Express have reportedly agreed to adopt the International Organization for Standardization’s new merchant code for sales of firearms. Visa announced its decision on Friday. Up until that point, gun purchases were classified as “general merchandise.”
In a written statement, Visa said:
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.
This decision will likely have influence over smaller institutions as well. The Associated Press noted:
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 have been pressuring financial institutions to make this move for years, arguing that it will somehow limit mass shootings and other forms of gun violence by making it easier to track suspicious sales of firearms. Indeed, the New York Times published an op-ed in 2018 calling for this very thing. New York City Mayor Eric Adams lauded the decision, saying:
“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.”
On the other hand, critics of the proposition pointed out that it would be “unfair to the industry given that most firearm sales do not result in mass shootings,” according to Fox Business.
The author pointed out that the new classification system is overly broad:
However, gun rights advocates contest that tracking gun store sales would target legal gun purchases because merchant codes only label the type of merchant where the credit or debit card is used, not the specific items. The purchase of a gun safe, for example, could be seen as a large purchase at a gun shop since the item can be bought for thousands of dollars. But a gun safe is a product considered to be part of responsible gun ownership.
Another issue with this new system is that it essentially creates a gun registry that the government can use to track gun owners and their purchases. Using data collected by private companies could be a way for the state to monitor legal and responsible gun owners.
Of course, this is precisely what the anti-gunners want. They know they might not be able to get federal legislation that would create such a registry, but just as they do with social media companies, they can access data collected by private institutions.
Moreover, this move wasn’t even necessary. The law already requires credit card companies to monitor and flag suspicious activity – this includes the sale of guns. But again, cutting down on gun violence isn’t the objective here. The anti-gunners know this will do nothing to stop mass shootings or other forms of violence. The fact of the matter is that it is not violent criminals who these people are placing in their crosshairs – it is law-abiding citizens who they believe should not be armed. This is yet another successful step in that direction.
For gun owners concerned about this move, it might be a better idea to buy your guns, ammo, and other materials using cash, which can’t be tracked by financial institutions. It’s how I plan to operate moving forward.