Wyoming, GOP AGs Demand Credit Card Companies Stop Tracking Gun Sales

Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill and 17 other GOP attorneys have told credit card companies tracking gun-shop transactions to change course or prepare for legal challenges

Clair McFarland

September 22, 20224 min read

Collage Maker 12 Sep 2022 07 04 PM

By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

Update: This story has been updated to include additional states’ attorneys general joining the movement to reverse credit card companies’ course on merchant category codes specific to gun vendors.

Wyoming and 23 other states on Tuesday told major credit card companies to prepare for legal challenges if they adopt a unique purchase code for gun sales. 

Bridget Hill and 17 other Republican attorneys general sent a letter Tuesday to the companies urging them not to implement the code. The letter is addressed to the CEOs of American Express, Mastercard and Visa, and it questions the legality of the new code and its possible uses, such as tracking gun sales or keeping a list of gun owners. 

“Be advised that we will marshal the full scope of our lawful authority to protect our citizens and consumers from unlawful attempts to undermine their constitutional rights,” the letter reads. “Please keep that in mind as you consider whether to proceed with adopting and implementing this Merchant Category Code.” 


The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) on Sept. 9 announced that major credit card companies soon would have a specific transaction code for gun vendors. Formerly, firearms sellers fell under “sporting goods” or “miscellaneous” sale codes.   

Credit card companies using the new code could report “suspicious” gun sales to authorities, the ISO announced.   

Some credit card companies already are using a unique code for firearms stores, according to the AGs’ letter.   

Political Goals  

The attorneys general say large corporations have taken policymaking into their own hands.   

“Americans are tired of seeing corporate leverage used to advance political goals that cannot muster basic democratic support,” the letter says. “(This) move was prompted by years of pressure from ideologues and accomplished via an application by the union-owned Amalgamated Bank.”   

Amalgamated Bank of New York was the frontrunner in pressuring the credit card companies’ standards board, ISO, to adopt the code. The bank had support from many Democratic members of Congress as well.   

Bank President and CEO Priscilla Sims Brown said specifying gun-store purchases in credit card records could help stop gun violence. She also said the code would not block or impede “legal gun sales.”   

The Republican attorneys general are doubtful.   

“Categorizing the constitutionally protected right to purchase firearms unfairly singles out law-abiding merchants and consumers alike,” says the AGs’ letter.   

“Creating and tracking this data only matters if your institutions are considering using that information to take further, harmful action,” the letter continues, “like infringing upon consumer privacy, inhibiting constitutionally protected purchases by selectively restricting the use of your payment systems, or otherwise withholding your financial services from targeted ‘disfavored’ merchants.”    

‘Transnational Collusion’  

The attorneys general said the code would not capture gun sales at department stores and couldn’t distinguish between a gun-safe and a firearms purchase, thus negating the good it was meant to do in flagging suspicious sales.   

Some proponents of the new code have compared it to the suspicious activity reports required of banks. Again, the GOP attorneys general weren’t convinced.  

“That analogy fails; (those reports) are specifically required by law and came about through a considered balancing of public safety and personal privacy,” says the letter. “(This code) is the result of transnational collusion between large corporations leveraging their market power to further their owners’ desired social outcomes.”   

The letter says that social policy should be crafted “within our political institutions.”   


Along with Hill’s signature for Wyoming, the letter also was signed by the following attorneys general:  

Along with Hill’s signature for Wyoming, the letter also was signed by the following attorneys general:
Jonathan Skrmetti, Tennessee
Austin Knudsen, Montana
Steve Marshall, Alabama
Daniel Cameron, Kentucky
Treg R. Taylor, Alaska
Jeff Landry, Louisiana
Mark Brnovich, Arizona
Lynn Fitch, Mississippi
Leslie C. Rutledge, Arkansas
Eric Schmitt, Missouri
Ashley Moody, Florida
Douglas J. Peterson, Nebraska
Chris Carr, Georgia
John Formella, New Hampshire
Todd Rokita, Indiana
Dave Yost, Ohio
Derek Schmidt, Kansas
Alan Wilson, South Carolina
Ken Paxton, Texas
Sean Reyes, Utah
Patrick Morrisey, West Virginia
Jason Miyares, Virginia
John M. O’Conner, Oklahoma

Share this article



Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter