Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves is being applauded by Second Amendment advocates and the firearms industry for signing legislation that prohibits credit card companies and other financial institutions from implementing merchant category codes for firearm retailers. The Second Amendment Financial Privacy Act is one of several bills introduced around the country this year that seeks to halt the use of the MCCs, and the legislation is having already having an impact.
It was just a few weeks ago that major companies including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover announced they were “pausing” their implementation of the MCCs, in large part because of bills like HB 1110. As we reported at the time:
The merchant category codes demanded by gun control groups that were announced to great fanfare last fall are now in limbo after major credit card companies, including Visa and Mastercard, announced on Wednesday that they’re halting their rollout of the codes in response to a number of bills filed in red states that bar the use of the codes and promise fines for those credit card companies that use them.
The companies have never really been on board with the category code since the far-left Amalgamated Bank and gun control activists began lobbying for the International Standardization Organization to create one several years ago. The anti-gunners claim the code will help prevent mass shootings by requiring the companies to flag “suspicious transactions” at firearms retailers, but both Visa and Mastercard executives have said the codes don’t identify specific purchases, and the responsibility to flag any transactions deemed suspicious is more about reducing banking fraud and other financial crimes. At the very least, the legislation both companies referenced in today’s decision may have given the companies an easy out for a scheme they were never really on board with in the first place.
Mastercard noted in its statement announcing the pause that ““MCCs are one data point that would not provide any insight on specific purchases or resolve larger issues,” adding “We are committed to working with policymakers and elected officials to contribute to constructive solutions that address the gun violence issue, while respecting important constitutional rights and protections for lawful activities.”
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is among those cheering Mississippi’s move, with senior vice president and general counsel Lawrence Keane calling it a “tremendous victory for the firearm industry and those law-abiding Mississippi gun owners who lawfully exercise their Second Amendment rights.”
“Certain ‘woke’ banks advocated to use a special Merchant Category Code specific to purchases made at firearm retailers, risking the possibility of creating a ‘back-door’ firearm registry,” said Keane. “NSSF opposed the creation and administration of this firearm retailer-specific MCC and we are grateful to Mississippi’s legislators and Governor Reeves for standing with the firearm industry and law-abiding gun owners to protect the privacy of their financial transactions.”
Other states are poised to follow Mississippi’s lead, with Florida likely to be the next to formally approve legislation that would fine companies for every use of a merchant category code that singles out firearm retailers. SB 214 has already passed the Senate, while HB 221 has cleared its last committee hurdle and is awaiting action on the House floor.
Hopefully these new laws will keep the merchant category codes for firearm retailers from ever being implemented. While the MCCs themselves don’t allow for the identification of individual purchases, they’re still a first step towards a back-door gun registration scheme and are utterly ineffective at spotting “suspicious transactions”, despite the claims of gun control activists. Mississippi lawmakers, including Gov. Reeves, should be applauded for their move, and I’m confident that we’ll have more states to celebrate in the weeks to come.