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Major credit card companies to track gun purchases

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by WorldTribune Staff, September 13, 2022

Visa Inc. announced on Sept. 10 that it will join American Express and MasterCard in recording all gun sales made using its credit cards.

The decision comes after a Sept. 9 announcement by the International Standards Organization (IOS), a global body that establishes standards across the financial services industry, that gun and ammunition merchandisers would be re-categorized with their own commerce codes.

The new IOS code was announced on Friday. Previously, gun store sales were labeled as "general merchandise."

"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.

Gun rights advocates say 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 [industry’s] decision to create a firearm-specific code is nothing more than a capitulation to anti-gun politicians and activists bent on eroding the rights of law-abiding Americans one transaction at a time," National Rifle Association spokesman Lars Dalseide said.

Gun-control activists say the new categorization rules may make it easier to record and track "suspicious" gun sales.

"Credit card companies have rules to stop fraud and human trafficking. This common-sense decision means the same rules will apply to guns, making it easier to stop illegal firearms-related activity,” said Igor Volsky, Founder and Executive Director of Guns Down America, in a statement following Visa's announcement.

The move has also been adopted by credit giants MasterCard and American Express.

On Sept. 1, Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Pennsylvania Democrat Rep. Madeline Dean sent a letter to American Express CEO Stephen Squeri, urging him to support the creation of a new merchant category code for gun retailers.

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