Iowa Governor Signs Bill Outlawing Use of Merchant Category Codes for Gun, Ammo Sales

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The state of Iowa may not get quite as much attention for its pro-2A laws as larger and more populous states like Texas and Florida, but the fact remains that it's one of the best places in the country to exercise your Second Amendment rights. Iowa's constitutional carry law took effect back in 2021, negating the need for a government-issued permission slip before exercising the right to bear arms, and in 2022 voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution that reads: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny." 


Now Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has acted to protect the privacy rights of gun owners by signing HF2464 into law. The bill prohibits the use of merchant category codes for transactions involving firearms and ammunition, while prohibiting any government entity or individual from establishing a registry of gun owners or the firearms they possess. 

Iowa isn't the first state to adopt such a provision, and we've seen states like California take the opposite approach by mandating the use of the codes, but that doesn't negate the importance of Reynolds' decision to sign HF2464. As the National Shooting Sports Foundation pointed out in a press release celebrating the governor's signing, anti-gun activists have been pretty clear about their plans for the codes, while the federal government has already admitted to abusing the Fourth Amendment rights of gun owners even before these MCCs were introduced a couple of years ago. 

The U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) admitted to U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) in a letter that it violated the Fourth Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens that protect against illegal search and seizure when it collected the credit card purchase history from banks and credit card companies of individuals who purchased firearms and ammunition in the days surrounding Jan. 6, 2020. Treasury’s FinCEN had no cause, and sought the information without a warrant, to place these law-abiding citizens on a government watchlist only because they exercised their Second Amendment rights to lawfully purchase firearms and ammunition.

The idea of a firearm-retailer specific MCC was borne from antigun New York Times’ columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin and Amalgamated Bank, which has been called “The Left’s Private Banker” and bankrolls the Democratic National Committee and several antigun politicians. Amalgamated Bank lobbied the Swiss-based International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for the code’s creation. NSSF has called on Congress to investigate Amalgamated Bank’s role in manipulating the ISO standard setting process.

Sorkin admitted creating a firearm-retailer specific MCC would be a first step to creating a national firearm registry, which is forbidden by federal law.


Iowa joins a number of other states with similar protections already in place, including Florida, Wyoming, Kentucky, Indiana, Idaho, Utah, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Texas. Other states, including Oklahoma, are currently considering similar Second Amendment Privacy Acts, while Colorado lawmakers have advanced a bill that, like California, would mandate the use of MCCs in gun stores. 

The major credit card companies have long been cool to the idea, noting that the codes do not detail individual purchases and it is difficult, if not impossible, to identify suspicious purchases based solely on the amount or frequency of any transactions at gun shops. In fact, all of the big credit card companies have paused their work on implementing the codes, which were established by the International Organization for Standardization in 2022. The one exception is in California, where companies like MasterCard say the new codes will be ready to be implemented when the state law mandating their use takes effect in May, 2025. 

We're likely headed to a two-tiered system in red and blue states, where Democrat-controlled states mandate the use of gun store-specific MCCs and Republican-controlled states forbid their use. Democrats are also pushing a federal bill that would require the use of the codes nationwide, but they don't have the votes in either chamber at the moment to make their Big Brother scheme a reality. For now, they have to satisfy their desire to surveil gun owners at the state level, and thankfully, there are far more states that are blocking the use of these codes than adopting them... at least at the moment. 


Join the conversation as a VIP Member