Visa, Mastercard and AmEx to categorize gun store sales

NEW YORK (AP) – Payment Processor Visa Inc. said Saturday it plans to categorize sales at gun stores separately, a big win for gun control advocates who say it will help better track suspected increases in gun sales, which could be a prelude to a mass shooting.

But the decision by Visa, the world’s largest payment processor, is likely to anger gun rights advocates and gun lobbyists, who have argued that categorizing gun sales would unfairly mark an industry when most sales don’t lead to mass shootings. It joins Mastercard and American Express, who also said they plan to continue categorizing gun store sales.

Visa said it would adopt the International Organization for Standardization’s new trade code for arms sales, announced Friday. Until Friday, the sale of gun shops was considered “general merchandise.”

“Following ISO’s decision to establish a new merchant category code, Visa will proceed with the next steps while ensuring we protect all legal trade on the Visa network in accordance with our long-standing rules” the payment processor said in a statement.

Visa’s adoption is important as the largest payment network, and with Mastercard and AmeEx, this is likely to put pressure on banks and card issuers to adopt the standard as well. Visa acts as an intermediary between merchants and banks, and it is up to banks to decide whether to allow sales at gun shops on their issued cards.

Gun control proponents had won significant victories on this front in recent weeks. New York City officials and pension funds had pressured the ISO and banks to adopt this code.

Two of the nation’s largest public pension funds, in California and New York, have pressured the nation’s largest credit card companies to establish specific firearms-related sales codes that can flag suspicious purchases or more easily track how guns and ammunition are sold. .

Trade category codes now exist for almost all types of purchases, including purchases from supermarkets, clothing stores, coffee shops, and many other retailers.

“When you buy a plane ticket or pay for your groceries, your credit card company has a special code for those retailers. It’s just common sense that we have the same policy for gun and ammunition stores,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a former police captain who blames the proliferation of weapons for the deadly violence in his city.

The city’s superintendent, Brad Lander, said it made moral and financial sense as a means of reducing gun violence.

“Unfortunately, the credit card companies have not supported this simple, practical and potentially life-saving tool. The time has come to do that,” Lander said recently, before Visa and others took the step.

Lander is a trustee of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, Teachers’ Retirement System and Board of Education Retirement System – which together own 667,200 shares of American Express worth approximately $92.49 million; 1.1 million shares in MasterCard worth approximately $347.59 million; and 1.85 million shares in Visa worth approximately $363.86 million.

The pension funds and gun control advocates argue that creating a category code for sellers for independent firearms and ammunition stores could help fight gun violence. A week before the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where 49 people died after a gunman opened fire in 2016, the attacker used credit cards to buy more than $26,000 worth of weapons and ammunition, including purchases at a booth. -alone arms dealer.

Gun rights advocates argue that tracking sales at gun stores would unfairly target legal gun purchases, as trade codes only track the type of merchant where the credit or debit card is used, not the items actually purchased. A sale of a gun safe, worth thousands of dollars and an item considered part of responsible gun ownership, can be viewed as a major purchase at a gun store.

“The (industry) decision to enact a firearms-specific code is nothing more than a capitulation to anti-gun politicians and activists bent on eroding the rights of law-abiding Americans transaction by transaction,” says Lars Dalseide , a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association.

Over the years, public pension funds have used their extensive investment portfolios to influence government policy and the market.

The California Teachers’ Fund, the country’s second-largest pension fund, has long focused on the arms industry. It has divested its interests from arms manufacturers and has tried to persuade some retailers to sell weapons.

Four years ago, the Weapons Teachers Fund made an important initiative. It called for background checks and called on retailers to “monitor irregularities at the point of sale, record all firearms sales, regularly monitor firearms inventory and proactively assist law enforcement.”

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.

Leave a Comment