Credit Card Companies Now Can Track, Report Gun And Ammo Sales

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com

Credit card companies now can track gun and ammunition sales in the U.S. and report suspicious transactions to law enforcement, according to a major commerce board.

A handful of Wyoming gun dealers told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that they don’t expect the new measure to hurt business.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) on Friday announced that gun dealers’ business transactions now will bear a specific code in credit card transactions, Reuters reported. While there are many different merchant codes in credit card transactions, the companies previously categorized gun sales under a more generic “sporting goods” or “miscellaneous” category.

‘They’ll Know Who’s Buying Guns’

“There’s never been a specific code for guns and ammo before,” said John Brazzale, owner of Johnny’s Gunworks in Cheyenne. Brazzale said the new private-sector tracking measure could easily be turned over to the government, if credit card companies decide to do so.

“If credit card companies allow the government to use (their) searchable database, they’ll (the government) know who’s buying guns and ammo,” he said.

But Brazzale didn’t expect the measure to hurt his business, he said.

“Most of my business is cash anyway. Credit card sales are a pain in my business, because (many) people that run the credit card industry don’t care for guns,” he said, adding that he also conducts business on the Internet.

Online third-party payment companies Paypal and Square won’t facilitate gun purchases.

‘Let Them Know’

Connor Bailey, firearm seller at Wind River Outdoor Company in Lander, also didn’t expect business to slow down as major credit card companies adopt the new gun code.

Bailey said most gun customers know exactly which gun they want before they’re in the store, and they will budget for it. Many pay cash – as does Bailey, when he buys a gun.

But Bailey said going forward, he feels compelled to tell customers that their purchases could be specifically flagged as gun purchases by their credit card companies.

“I would definitely let them know,” he said, adding that many firearms enthusiasts have already been hesitant to involve credit card companies for a while.

Marla Lemm, owner at The Good Place, another Lander sporting goods store, said adopting a new code isn’t going to be enough to deter Wyomingites from buying guns.

“If somebody wants to buy a gun they’ll buy a gun,” said Lemm. “It’s not the first time some group has decided they have to keep track of who’s buying what.”

An ‘Interest’ In Blocking Sales

The new code will soon be adopted by major credit card companies American Express, Mastercard, and Visa, the companies announced last week.

American Express told CBS that this is just another of many specific codes “that help us understand the industries in which our merchants operate.

“We are focused on ensuring that we have the right controls in place to meet our regulatory and fiduciary responsibilities,” the company continued, “as well as prevent illegal activity on our network.”

This summer, however, Visa, Mastercard and American Express all countered the International Operating Standards board’s efforts, according to CBS News.

Mastercard told CNBC in July that stopping gun violence is an issue that should be tackled, rather, by elected officials.

Visa in a letter to members of Congress said the movement’s chief advocate, Amalgamated Bank, of New York, wanted the code so it could shut down gun sales.

“We understood Amalgamated Bank’s request to be justified, at least in part, by an interest in blocking transactions that would fall under such a new category, and Visa’s rules expressly prohibit blocking of legal transactions under (a code),” the company said.

‘Legal Gun Sales’

Amalgamated Bank’s president said in a statement Friday the bank was proud of the new code, but would not use it to shut down “legal gun sales.”

“We all have to do our part to stop gun violence,” said Priscilla Sims Brown, President and CEO of Amalgamated Bank. “And it sometimes starts with illegal purchases of guns and ammunition. The new code will allow us to fully comply with our duty to report suspicious activity and illegal gun sales to authorities without blocking or impeding legal gun sales. This action answers the call of millions of Americans who want safety from gun violence and we are proud to have led the broad coalition of advocates, shareholders, and elected officials that achieved this historic outcome.”

The Wyoming branch of gun-control advocate Moms Demand Action did not respond Monday afternoon to an emailed request for comment. However, the group posted an Associated Press story on the new categorization codes, to its Wyoming Facebook page.

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