Credit card companies cave to lawmaker demands

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File

New York lawmakers and anti-gun activists wanted credit card companies to start requiring a special code for gun purchases. They said it was so the companies could flag “suspicious” gun purchases.

However, despite the pressure, there didn’t seem to be a law in the works to force the issue.

Yet, anyway.

Yet with the pressure coming from the governor of New York, among others, it seemed there was a certain degree of threat to that pressure.

And, unfortunately, they caved.

Visa, Mastercard, and American Express will separately categorize purchases at gun shops in a win for gun control advocates who say the decision will help alert law enforcement to potentially illegal firearm sales.

According to The Associated Press, the payment processors announced the change on Saturday, after the International Organization for Standardization, a Geneva-based nonprofit, approved the creation of a merchant code for gun retailers.

Until Friday, gun store sales did not have a unique code and were considered “general merchandise,” according to a spokeswoman for the ISO.

“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,” the company said in a statement to Insider.

AmericanExpress said it will work with its third-party processors and partners to implement the new merchant category codes.

“It is important to note that MCC codes are one of many data points that help us understand the industries in which our merchants operate,” the company said in a statement.

Reuters reported the ISO was influenced by gun control advocates, including US Senator Elizabeth Warren, who urged the CEOs of Mastercard, American Express, and Visa to make the change.

“Mass shooters have repeatedly financed deadly massacres using credit cards, and bank CEOs need to step up to save lives,” Warren said.

Except, how do you identify the mass shooters?

Sure, some of them may have financed guns with credit cards, but so too do far more law-abiding citizens. Guns are expensive, so it’s just easier for many to step up and buy a gun with a credit card and pay it off rather than save their pennies to buy a gun that might not be in the case later.

How are you going to identify the suspicious behavior?

Look at mass shooters, for a moment. Yes, many have bought guns with credit cards, but what about those precise purchases is suspicious? The Las Vegas killer had a lot of guns, but he’d acquired them over a longer period of time, no different than any law-abiding citizen might.

In contrast, the Parkland killer had exactly one gun, much like any number of law-abiding 18-year-olds might.

While there is a lot of suspicious behavior that proceeds such an attack, almost all of that happens outside of the gun store. Inside, it doesn’t look much different than anyone else who is getting into guns as a pastime.

So now a lot of law-abiding citizens with nothing to hide are going to be reported for suspicious activity simply because they’re exercising their Second Amendment rights. Nothing about that is right but, perhaps more importantly, nothing about that is going to do any good, either.

After all, with so many false reports coming in, authorities will start dismissing them just as quickly.

Meanwhile, now that this is public knowledge, how many people are going to use the cash advance feature of their credit card, and pay cash for the guns so it does not raise a single flag? Honestly, if you’re a law-abiding citizen who simply doesn’t want the government to know what you’re doing with your money, I highly recommend you buy guns in exactly that manner.

It’s no one’s business how you spend your money.

Of course, it should be noted that you can use a credit card on an escort service with nary a peep from anyone, but exercising a constitutionally protected right now can land you on a watch list.

So much for the Land of the Free.