Citing Widespread Pushback, Credit Card Companies Back Off On Tracking Gun Sales – For Now

Visa, American Express, MasterCard, and Discover announced this week they were going to "pause" implementation of tracking gun purchases because of widespread pushback against the measure.

Mark Heinz

March 18, 20234 min read

Gun shop 3 18 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Despite a coalition of state attorneys general balking at credit card companies backing away from tracking firearms purchases, Wyoming’s said the tracking was a bad idea to begin with.

“I signed a letter back in December urging those companies not to use the new code” to track gun purchases, Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.

She said her stance hasn’t changed. 

Credit Companies Back Off Tracking Idea

In September, credit card giants Visa, American Express and MasterCard announced plans to add a new merchant code for gun retailors specific to firearms and firearms-related purchases. Discover jumped on the bandwagon last month. 

The creation of the new code had been approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) based in Switzerland.

However, all four credit companies announced this week that they plan to “pause” implantation of the new code, citing widespread pushback.

That pushback includes legislative bills in several states – Wyoming is one of them – aimed at baring or limiting the implementation of the codes on the grounds they would violate Second Amendment rights. 

Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill

Dueling AG Letters Of Protest

In September, Hill signed onto a letter of protest to the CEOs of Visa, American Express and MasterCard stating the proposed new codes were unwarranted and violated the Second Amendment. 

“The new code will not protect public safety,” that letter stated in part. “Categorizing the constitutionally protected right to purchase firearms unfairly singles out law-abiding merchants and consumers alike. First, efforts to track and monitor sales at gun stores would only result in vague and misleading information.”

That letter also was signed by the state attorneys general of Tennessee, Montana, Alabama, Kentucky, Alaska, Louisiana, Arizona, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Florida, Nebraska, Georgia, New Hampshire, Indiana, Ohio, Kansas, Utah, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. 

This week, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin took the lead in sending a letter of protest to the CEOs of all four credit card companies arguing for the tracking code.

“We see no valid reason why these companies, who process millions of transactions in firearms, ammunitions, gun kits and more, would renege on their pledge to take simple, commonsense steps to help flag potential gun traffickers and mass shooters,” that letter reads, in part.

It also was signed by the attorneys general from the District of Columbia, Delaware, Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Nevada, Oregon and Rhode Island.

Wyoming’s Bill Failed

Senate File 171, a bill the Wyoming Legislature considered in its recent legislative session, would have opposed the new codes. It died in the state Senate on Feb. 6. 

It was previously debated before the Wyoming Senate Revenue Committee, which voted to forward it to the Senate. 

Some from the banking industry argued that it would cause unnecessary complications and amount to the state meddling in their business. 

Committee member Sen. Troy McKeown, R-Gillette, remarked that the proposed code make him upset. 

“I don’t want the government knowing I bought a Twinkie, let alone a gun,” he said. 

Fight Probably Isn’t Over

While the companies backing off might seem like a victory for gun rights advocates, it may not last long, Gun Owners of America spokesman Mark Jones of Buffalo told Cowboy State Daily on Friday. 

Jones added that he’s particularly suspicious of the ISO’s involvement. 

“The ISO pushed it, probably at the behest of the Biden administration,” he said. “They’re anti-Second Amendment, they’re anti-gun and they’re not going to back off.”

Jones said he and others plan to keep pushing for a bill similar to SF 171, which would have put firearms purchases under a broader “sporting goods” category, thus better protecting the privacy of gun owners. 

Such a bill is needed because the respite from the proposed tracking codes is likely temporary, Jones said, adding that, “I don’t think the credit card companies are going to stop it in the long term.”

Share this article



Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter