FL bill would levy $10K fine on credit card companies

(AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

Credit card companies have a plan in place that will, to some degree, allow the tracking of gun and ammo sales. This was a move politicians pushed for, despite absolutely no one being able to actually show us how it will reduce mass shootings, violent crime, or anything else.

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This is simply the latest step the financial industry has taken to hurt the firearm industry.

A lot of people are anything but keen on seeing something like this in place. In Florida, a bill will seek to implement a $10,000 fine on each instance of a company tracking the sales of guns and ammo.

Credit-card companies could face fines of up to $10,000 per violation for tracking firearm and ammunition sales in Florida, under a measure approved Tuesday by a Senate committee.

The Republican-controlled Senate Banking and Insurance Committee voted 7-3 along party lines to approve a bill (SB 214) that would target yet-to-be-enacted plans by some credit-card companies to create a separate “merchant category code” for sales at firearm businesses.

Similar four-digit codes are already used to separate purchases and collect data from places such as grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and bookstores.

Bill sponsor Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, pointed to a Florida prohibition on gun-sale registries and said the bill would prevent data collection.

“In Florida, we take it very seriously to protect consumers’ rights, gun rights and their right to privacy, and I believe that this MCC (merchant category code) would lead to the creation of a registry in essence, potentially having a chilling effect on constitutional rights,” Burgess said. “We’re basically putting teeth behind current law in Florida, which prevents government and private registries.”

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And yes, this would essentially create a private registry.

No, it wouldn’t be a particularly comprehensive registry, since it would do nothing to track sales using cash or check, for example. It would also have issues because the codes are merchant codes, not product codes, so buying fishing supplies from an outdoor store could look like buying guns to these companies.

That’s also why this new move will likely accomplish absolutely nothing over either the short or long term.

Still, it would be a useful starting point for anyone looking at who has guns and roughly how many, and that’s a huge problem.

To make matters all the worst, as Ammoland reported last week, Discover appears to be ready to use the new merchant codes starting in April.

What that means is that this bill might get a workout a lot sooner than anyone originally expected.

“But Tom, it’s just a $10,000 fine. That’s nothing to these companies.”

Well, yeah, it’s $10,000, but that’s per instance. If you buy a gun at one store, buy ammo at another, then pick up another gun at a third store, that’s not a single $10,000 fine for the credit card company. That’s $30,000.

Then when you factor in how many gun sales there are in the state of Florida each day, most of which involve a credit card, those fines could reach seven or eight figures in a hurry.

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Even a multi-billion dollar financial company will feel that crunch before too long, and they should.

There’s nothing about this that will prevent a single violent crime. This is about treating guns as if they’re some taboo subject and item that must be handled differently. If one of these companies ends up shutting down because of these codes, it’ll serve as a helpful warning to the rest.

On the upside, they’ll either stop using them in Florida or the residents of that state will enjoy a nice boost to the state budget thanks to recalcitrant credit card companies. It looks like they win either way.

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