May 2023 ***Update*** Amex, Mastercard, Visa pause work on new firearms merchant code
On September 9th, 2022 it was announced that an international standards body has approved creation of a merchant code for gun retailers. This came following pressure from activists who say it will help track suspicious weapons purchases.
This will allow banks that process gun retailers’ payments to decide whether to assign the new code to merchants. The code would help monitors track where an individual spends money, but would not show what specific items were purchased.
Some gun-rights activists had worried the new codes could lead to unauthorized surveillance. Many question how this will actually stop someone from obtaining a gun to commit a crime. Unless law enforcement is monitoring a specific individual, the new codes probably won’t do much.
Nearly every retail item has a merchant category code – before Friday’s decision by the ISO, gun store sales were classified as general merchandise or sporting goods category.
Merchant codes track where a consumer used a credit card, but won’t flag what specific items were purchased. Gun rights activists have argued the code would unfairly surveil legal gun purchases.
“This is not about tracking or prevention or any virtuous motivation – it’s about creating a national registry of gun owners,” the NRA said Sunday.