Payments globals will enforce a new code that identifies transactions at US gun stores, following pressure from gun control activists who say it will help track suspicious purchases and prevent mass shootings.
Until Friday, September 9, sales at US gun stores were considered “general merchandise.” They will now be categorized separately, at least by payment giants like Visa, MasterCard and American Express.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), a global network that identifies international standards required by governments, has approved the creation of a trade code specifically for gun retailers.
Gun and ammunition control activists say the categorization will help track suspicious purchases and could help spot the potential for mass shootings early.
The adoption of the measure by Visa, Mastercard and American Express, which will begin to be implemented, could put pressure on card-issuing banks to also adhere to the standard.
A long-standing debate in the United States
Some of the nation’s largest public pension funds, such as the California teachers’ fund, had been pushing credit card firms to establish specific sales codes for firearms-related sales as a way to help the fight against armed violence.
Today, these category codes exist for almost every type of purchase, including those made at grocery stores, clothing stores, coffee shops, and many other retailers.
“When you buy a plane ticket or pay for groceries, your credit card company has a special code for those retailers. It’s common sense that we have the same policies for gun and ammunition stores,” New York Mayor Eric Adams, a former police captain who blames gun proliferation for the violence in the city, recently said of him.
Breaking News: A business standards group voted to create a special code that would flag credit card sales at gun stores, a win for gun control advocates who say it will help law enforcement officials spot suspicious purchases. https://t.co/t2CfRLlJK0
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 9, 2022
In contrast, some gun rights advocates worry that the new code could lead to unauthorized surveillance and unfairly single out an industry where, they argue, most sales do not lead to mass shootings.
Lars Dalseide, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, said that this industry decision “is nothing more than a concession to politicians and anti-gun activists bent on eroding the rights of law-abiding Americans.”
This year’s mass shootings, including the one at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 children and two teachers were killed, have stirred America’s longstanding debate over gun control.
With AP and Reuters