Gun control advocates scored a major victory as payment processor Visa will separately categorize and code firearm sales.
Visa joins Mastercard and American Express in applying the International Organization for Standardization’s new merchant code to gun shop sales. Previously, gun store sales were labeled as “general merchandise.”
Gun control advocates say it is a better way to track gun sales that could be a prelude to mass shootings. There is no evidence that gun sales by law-abiding taxpayers are the impetus of mass shootings.
New York City officials and two of the largest public pension funds in the U.S., which are in California and New York, have put pressure on the country’s largest credit card companies to adopt separate sales codes for gun sales.
“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 (D).
Second Amendment 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.
The payment processing companies vowed to protect the privacy of their customers.
“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,” Visa said in a statement.
Economist Dr. John Lott, Jr, author of “More Guns, Less Crimes” and tweeted, “Visa, Mastercard, AmEx to categorize gun store sales. A major victory for gun control advocates who say a separate category for gun store sales will help track suspicious firearm sales that could lead to a mass shooting. Nonsense.”