Credit Card Companies Pause Work On Gun-Specific Merchant Code

A widespread effort to coerce credit card companies and banks to track the purchase of firearms and gun-related accessories has resulted in significant backlash from the right.

The International Organization for Standardization approved a specific code for such purchases in an ostensible effort to reduce gun violence. Critics like U.S. Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX), however, see it as an affront to the Second Amendment rights of U.S. citizens.

“Progressives are already cheering that this will be a huge step forward in monitoring suspicious gun purchases,” the Texas Republican said in September, after Visa announced that it would implement the new code. “Anyone who is against the rights of gun owners will want [financial] institutions to flag every single transaction with a gun [code] to law enforcement.”

GOP lawmakers have advanced bills designed to derail the plan. In response, Visa and Mastercard announced they would temporarily halt their work on the code.

Citing the “inconsistency” created by various state proposals aimed at derailing the program, a Mastercard spokesperson said that it had “decided to pause work on the implementation of the firearms-specific [merchant category code].”

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen applauded the decision, though he asserted that it did not go far enough.

“Visa and Mastercard came to the correct conclusion,” he said. “However, they shouldn’t just ‘pause’ their implementation of this plan — they should end it definitively. Discover and American Express should do the same.”

Going on to denounce the entire effort to establish a gun-specific merchant code, Knudsen added: “This measure will do nothing to improve public safety while invading consumer privacy and inviting coordination between corporations and government agencies to erode Americans’ fundamental right to keep and bear arms.”

The Montana Republican was responsible for spearheading a group of attorneys general in nearly half of the U.S. states that opposed the plan.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey provided a similar assessment in response to the latest development, calling it “a huge victory for the Second Amendment and privacy rights of law-abiding gun owners here in West Virginia and across the country” and expressing satisfaction in knowing “that Mastercard and Visa listened to our serious concerns with the new merchant code and will act accordingly.”

After initial reports last year that major credit card companies planned to comply with requests to establish the code, Knudsen called the development “extremely disappointing” that they would “cave to pressure from international bodies and adopt this measure that will do nothing to improve public safety.”