Republican AGs are urging credit card companies to end plan to add dealer code for gun dealers

Republican attorneys general of 24 states wrote a letter to Visa, Mastercard and American Express this week, urging them to halt plans to introduce a new dealer category code for firearms dealers.

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti and Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen led the action, according to the Wall Street Journal reported.

The letter warned that a new dealer category code for arms dealers could violate citizens’ rights by preventing firearms purchases.

“By categorizing the constitutionally protected right to purchase firearms, law-abiding dealers and consumers alike are excluded,” the letter said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, attorneys general signed the letter by last night, and Virginia’s office joined Tuesday morning.

in one blog article of Visa, the credit card company, explained that many “misunderstand” the purpose of merchant category codes.

“Many misunderstand what this means and in turn advocate the use of MCCs to ‘track’ gun sales as a potential tool to combat gun violence. That’s not what merchant codes are designed for and shouldn’t be,” Visa wrote.

The company explained that the codes only distinguish the type of retailer, never the items purchased.

“They are four-digit category codes used only to classify the type of business a retailer operates. However, MCCs do not provide Visa or other payment networks with visibility into product-level data, also known as ‘SKU-level data,'” reads the blog article.

Currently, firearms stores are listed with a customer center shared by a broader category of specialty retailers. Gun control advocates are pushing for credit card companies to identify gun dealers with a unique code, claiming it will help prevent mass shootings.

Visa stated, “We do not believe that private companies should act as moral arbiters. Asking private companies what legal products or services can or cannot be bought and in which store sets a dangerous precedent.”

In response to increasing pressure on credit card companies to monitor gun sales, a new MCC for gun dealers was recently approved.

Tennessee AG Skrmetti and Montana AG Knudsen warned that they plan to open investigations against Visa, Mastercard and American Express if they go ahead with their plan to add the new code.

The letter from the 23 Republican attorneys general read, “We will use the fullest extent of our legal authority to protect our citizens and consumers from unlawful attempts to undermine their constitutional rights.”

“If we find unauthorized blocking or intentional restrictions on legitimate trade, we will take swift action against such activity,” Mastercard said.

The credit card companies assured the public that the new merchant category code would not be used to prevent purchases. However, the whole purpose of activating the new code is to legally oblige card companies to report any “suspicious” transactions to law enforcement. Republican AGs are urging credit card companies to end plan to add dealer code for gun dealers

Laura Coffey

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