Hawley blasts credit card companies over gun sale tracking

Tasos Katopodis/Pool via AP

By now, unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about what credit card companies will be doing going forward. The system won’t do what proponents claim–there’s no way to determine what’s actually a gun purchase and what just happens to be purchased from a store tagged as a “gun store,” for example–but they’re awfully excited by it.


One person who isn’t is Sen. Josh Hawley, however.

On Tuesday, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) called out three major credit card companies over their decision to separate gun-related purchases from other transactions made with their payment cards.

In a letter to the CEOs of Visa, Mastercard and American Express, Hawley explained how this move “attempts to undermine the Second Amendment’s protections” and that the policy is “ripe for abuse.”

I write to express serious concern with your decision to separately categorize gun-related purchases from other retail transactions made with your payment cards so that firearm purchases can be more easily tracked,” Hawley wrote, before outlining how the policy targets law-abiding Americans.

The truth of the matter is that this really is an invasion of our privacy. No one should be trying to track whether we’re buying guns or not, and this is something that Congress should look at.


However, let’s also be realistic here. The best we’re going to see is some action after the midterms, but even then, not much is likely to happen.

Yet Hawley is right that this is a capitulation to anti-gunners. While ISO may have made the decision, it was still caving to the demands of a loud handful of folks and the credit card companies clearly didn’t put up much of a fight, at the very least.

Additionally, Discover seems to be the only one that hasn’t gone along with ISO’s decision, and that means the other three at least had some choice in the matter, so the onus remains on them.

The truth is that the anti-Second Amendment crowd is starting to recognize that they can’t win in the halls of Congress and they can’t win in the courts, so they’re looking to bully people in places they think they can win. The Supreme Court won’t intercede because ISO isn’t an American institution that answers to the laws of our land and the credit card companies are private entities.

It should also be noted that Hawley is far from the only critic of this. Cam outlined a number of others on Tuesday.

That’s a good thing, obviously. Isolated criticism of the move won’t prompt anyone to change anything. There needs to be a sustained effort and even pressure from people like Hawley to, perhaps, get them to finally change back to the way things were.


The ironic thing here is that this is so companies can spot suspicious activity with regard to gun sales, yet there’s absolutely no way they’ll be able to do that no matter what anyone tries to say. They can change the code for the stores, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a store that only sells guns and ammunition and literally nothing else.

So, this will fade and fizzle as a supposed tool for stopping mass shootings.

But it’ll remain a damn handy way to create a couple of small databases of who has been buying guns–databases that could be fairly easily accessed if the government so desired.

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