Bill To Ban Tracking Of Wyoming Gun, Ammo Sales Heads To House Floor

Speaking in support of a bill that would ban the tracking of gun and ammo sales, Sen. Anthony Bouchard said "everything you buy is tracked and data is sold. The problem is on the gun side, that data could be used for nefarious purposes.”

Mark Heinz

March 04, 20244 min read

State Sen. Anthony Bouchard testifying in favor of Senate File 105 on March 4, 2024
State Sen. Anthony Bouchard testifying in favor of Senate File 105 on March 4, 2024 (Matt Idler)

A “merchant code” specific to buying firearms could hurt small businesses and provide the government and anti-gun groups with data about who’s buying guns and ammunition in Wyoming, backers of a bill to ban it said.

“I can assure you that everything you buy is tracked and data is sold. The problem is on the gun side, that data could be used for nefarious purposes,” state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, told the Wyoming House Judiciary Committee.

Tracking firearms and ammunition sales could be used to “prejudicially” put small gun shops out of business, Nephi Cole, spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told the committee as he testified in favor of Senate File 105.

However, committee member Rep. Ken Chestek, D-Laramie, questioned the need for a Wyoming law addressing the merchant code. If the government is using data tracking from such codes for nefarious purposes, that’s a matter best left for Congress to deal with, he said.

“It is not illegal to sell guns, it is not illegal to manufacture guns,” he said. “But you’re suggesting that the administration is somehow trying to use this information improperly to put improper pressure on that industry. If that’s the problem, then why don’t we solve that problem instead of this one?”

The committee voted to advance SF 105 to the House floor, with Chestek casting the sole vote against it.

‘Suspicious Activity’

Merchant codes specific to credit card gun and ammunition purchases were initially implemented in 2022, SF 105 sponsor Sen. Dan Laursen, R-Powell, told the committee.

A handful of other states have already prohibited the use of those codes while others have made it mandatory, he said.

“California mandates the code. Other states are working on legislation to mandate it within their borders. The result will be denials of sales and services to their citizens, and closures of many firearms stores in those states,” Laursen said.

Records of firearms or ammunition purchases could also be used to prompt “a suspicious activity report” with law enforcement agencies, he said.

“The bill isn’t about the credit cards. The issue is the code the merchant is assigned that’s the issue. We want to make sure the firearms can’t be tracked,” Laursen said.

SF 105 would allow the Wyoming Attorney General’s office to pursue a civil injunction against any person or entity that attempted to use a merchant’s code to track gun purchases in Wyoming.

Amendments to also apply criminal penalties for violations were rejected by the committee.

Unfair To Small Businesses

Cole said that a gun or ammunition specific code can unfairly target small businesses that have guns as their primary or only products for sale.

That’s because the code could be attached to the businesses’ category, he said. So large chain stores, such as Walmart, might not be pinged for the code, even though they sell firearms.

Businesses that sell firearms and ammunition as their sole or primary products could get pinged with the merchant code, no matter what, Cole said.

“Let’s say you went to that firearms dealer and bought a tent. It could be coded as ‘firearms,’” he said.

The “firearms” code could be used to pressure financial institutions to withdraw credit from small gun shops, Gun Owners Of America (GOA) spokesman Mark Jones told the Committee.

Already Tracking Gun Owners?

Testifying via Zoom, rural southwest Wyoming resident Laura Pearson said she favors SF 105, because she’s worried about the government tracking her and other gun owners.

“I fully believe that the government is trying to track us and the firearms we purchase,” she said.

Jones singled out the Biden administration, saying that GOA thinks the administration is already up to no good in that regard.

“Our organization has been very clear in our accusation that the Biden administration is already keeping an illegal gun registry. Congress made that illegal. But if you’ve bought a gun in the last several years, you’re in an illegal registry that’s being kept right now,” he said.

In general, merchant codes are useful, Bobbie Frank, spokeswoman for the GoWest Credit Union Association of Wyoming, told the committee.

Credit card companies and other financial services can use purchase codes to calculate customers’ “rewards” points programs, she said.

However, she said her organization still favors SF 105, because a firearms-specific code is fraught with controversy.

“This is a very politicized code. Quite frankly, the credit unions of Wyoming wish the code could just go away,” she said.

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter