WTF? Is New York moving in on the 2nd Amendment? – NYC Officials urge Credit Card Companies to Trace Gun Buys

[How the heck can they, of their own accord suddenly begin tracing all gun buys? Jan]

New York City officials are calling on American Express, MasterCard and Visa, three of the world’s largest credit card companies, to support a proposal to establish a merchant category code (MCC) for gun and ammunition stores.

The creation of a new code would help financial institutions detect and report suspicious activity, such as unusually large purchases of firearms or ammunition, or purchases from multiple stores, that may be used for criminal purposes, Mayor Eric Adams said Tuesday at a City Hall news conference.

Credit card companies use a four-digit merchant category code to classify businesses by the types of goods and services sold. Merchant category codes are set by the International Organization on Standardization (ISO), which is set to meet this fall.

Unique merchant category codes exist for grocery stores, sporting goods stores, bicycle shops, and many other retailers, but not for gun and ammunition stores.

Proposals have been brought before the ISO to create a merchant category code for gun retailers, but American Express, MasterCard, and Visa have not supported the proposal.

The news conference followed a letter to MasterCard and American Express from 50 New York state legislators, spearheaded by New York State Senator Zellnor Myrie and New York State Assemblymember Chantel Jackson, calling for the creation of this code.

“When it comes to guns falling into the wrong hands, we must find upstream solutions before we’re faced with downstream consequences — because downstream consequences are lost lives,” Adams told reporters.

“When you buy an airline ticket or pay for your groceries, your credit card company has a special code for those retailers. It’s just commonsense that we have the same policies in place for gun and ammunition stores. I’m proud to join Comptroller Lander and our partners at the state level to call for this important policy change.”

“Communities could stop paying the price for gun violence if credit card companies did their part to categorize gun purchases and flag suspicious activity to law enforcement agencies,” said New York State Attorney General Letitia James. “These changes could save lives and go a long way in helping us combat gun violence.”

Officials at the news conference also highlighted the introduction of shareholder proposals by the three pension funds at American Express and Mastercard and requested transparency on the decisions made regarding merchant category codes for gun and ammunition stores.

The three pension funds own 667,200 thousand shares in American Express valued at approximately $92.49 million; 1.1 million shares in MasterCard valued at approximately $347.59 million; and 1.85 million shares in Visa valued at approximately $363.86 million.

“A merchant category code for gun stores could save lives by allowing financial institutions like Amalgamated Bank to report sales associated with black market activity and potential domestic terrorism. Creating this code is one step the financial industry can take to keep our communities safe from gun violence,” said Maura Keaney, first vice president, Amalgamated Bank.

“We applaud New York City pension fund trustees for demanding transparency from MasterCard and American Express. Their failure to act on our proposal only delayed the creation of this potentially life-saving tool and created shareholder risk from their ability to see something, but not say something,” she added.

“We do it for…if someone purchases fertilizer,” Adams said. “There are notifications that are made. And we have this code, with the purchase of the items. Why can’t we have this code when you purchase guns? This is a real issue.”


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