Close-up of payment machine while human hand keeping plastic card in it
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Lawmakers in a number of states are pushing legislation concerning the use of a special merchant category code for gun purchases, with nine states pushing to make the scheme illegal and one state led by blatantly anti-gun lawmakers trying to force card companies to adopt the code.

At issue is a new Merchant Category Code (MCC) for gun purchases adopted by the International Organization for Standardization a little over a year ago. MCCs are used by payment processors (like Visa and Mastercard) and other financial services companies to categorize transactions.

Prior to the creation of the specific code for guns, firearms retailers fell under the MCC for sporting goods stores or miscellaneous retail. If the new code is used, credit card companies and other payment processors can tell the purchases were firearms.

“For practical purposes, collecting firearms retailer financial transaction data amounts to surveillance and registration of law-abiding gun owners,” NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action stated in a recent news bulletin. “Those promoting this scheme are in favor of firearm and gun owner registrations.”

Legislators in Utah, Kentucky, Iowa, Tennessee, Georgia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, New Hampshire and Indiana are considering legislation to prohibit the use of firearm/ammunition specific merchant category codes by payment processors.

The Georgia legislation, House Bill 1018, states: “It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any financial institution to require the usage of a firearms code in a way that distinguishes a firearms retailer that is physically located in this state from general merchandise retailers or sporting goods retailers.”

It further states: “It shall be unlawful for any financial institution to discriminate against a firearms retailer by declining a lawful payment card transaction based solely on the assignment or non-assignment of a firearms code; provided, however, that a financial institution may decline or otherwise refuse to process a payment card transaction on the basis of a firearms code if such action is requested by the customer or is the result of fraud prevention procedures or merchant category exclusions offered by the financial institution for the purpose of expenditure control or corporate payment card control.”

The bills in the other eight states seeking to stop use of such a code are similar, if not identical. Those measures are all in different stages of the legislative process in their respective states.

As this move continues in nine states, anti-gun lawmakers in—you guessed it—Colorado (if you guessed California, they already passed such a bill last year) are pushing a measure that does just the opposite. The Colorado legislation, Senate Bill 24-066, would require that payment processors use the MCC so a record of firearms sales could be kept. The legislation would also impose a $1,000 fine for each violation of not categorizing a firearms sale under the new code.

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  1. Don’t use credit or debit buying ANYTHING 2A related. Kinda simple! If you can’t get a gat online buy local. Bidumb & company want them out of business.

  2. Nice to see NRA ILA chime in. That said I received my voting member issue of the America’s First Freedom. And within was a well written sunset Farewell Letter from Wayne. It is now time to see where the org. is heading, one can only hope things work as well as the enticing Girsan photo. I voted for who sounded like or was known good people. Bottom line…The NRA is not yet out of the woods.

    • You voted for “who sounded like or was known good people?” Most of the candidates are members of the current Board whom I’ve been told by others on this forum, were hand-picked by LaPierre and his cronies, part of the culture of corruption in the NRA.

      And I see they’re wanting approval to create another executive position, a Chief Compliance Officer. I wonder what that position will pay?

    • Last year when I voted, if their bio said that they were endorsed by the board, I did not vote for them. That left only a handful to vote for, so that’s what I did.

  3. Some states force YES, other force NO.

    Will be a headache for CC companies to parse records by state. Darn.

    I would *hope* the right to privacy (stop laughing), and equal protection could be considered in here somewhere.

    Any lawyers in the room?

    • “Will be a headache…Darn.”

      There will be a financial cost to implement this. At first, the hit will be absorbed by merchants, but they’ll soon pass it on to the customers via transaction fees or higher prices. The card processors have had the game fixed from the outset, so that they make money, and improve their margins in small, steady increments, no matter what.

    • Not a lawyer, but concerning costs — minimal. From what I’ve read on banking sites, the individual vendors would change their MCC from the general “sporting goods” code to the “firearms retailer” code. Xaun Loc’s post below explains.

      • For the new MCC itself, yes, you are correct. It’s just a matter of 0s and 1s. Every merchant log in and change a few digits, or the processors will do it with a push to the terminals. However, disseminating the new MCC is not the goal, but rather one step towards reaching that goal. The endgame is having linked and searchable databases. See my explanation below. To get there, each merchant will be required to computerize their operation. That can be costly.

  4. Warning to folks on this forum: do not buy or do business with Standard Manumitting. They pride themselves with the highest manufacturing quality standards but in reality they produce overpriced crap. I just spent $$$$ on a Single Action revolver. Never fired a shot and the cylinder hand broke the next day. Now they want me to pay for the shipping label to send the gun for repair. Their customer support sucks, there is only one guy on the phone and gives the same standard answer: “write us an email with your concerns”. I will never buy anything from them again.

  5. This won’t be welcome here, but this whole MCC fuss is much ado about nothing. It seems typical of the NRA to have grabbed this as a great fund raising tool to fight a useless battle over nothing.

    The Merchant Category Code does not provide credit card processors or banks or anyone else any information that they didn’t already have. In particular is it NOT some magical back door gun registration scheme.

    Credit card processors and banks have always known at exactly what store you made each purchase.

    Credit card processors and banks have always known the exact total of your purchases.

    What they have not known — and still won’t know — is what you bought, how many items you bought, or what each item cost.

    So, if you spent $1234.56 at the XYZ Company and used your credit card, the card processing company knows that you spent $1234.56 at XYZ Co. Inc. At worst the new MCC might tell them that XYZ Co. Inc. says their primary business is selling firearms. But there is still nothing that tells the credit card company or the bank whether that $1234.56 was a mid-priced AR, four low priced pistols, or one nice but not special 1911, or a couple cases of ammo, or a pallet of .22LR ammo, or some combination of whatever XYZ Co happens to sell.

    The MCC is about what kind of store where you spent the money — it doesn’t tell anyone what you bought.

    And it won’t even tell them much about the store because the Merchant Category Code is a general code for the whole store, not for the items you bought.

    Yes, if you buy your guns and ammo at “Ma & Pa’s Olde Gun Shoppe” their MCC might become the new code for Firearms Retailer.

    On the other hand, if you buy your guns and ammo at Cabella’s or Bass Pro Shop their MCC will be Sporting Goods Retailer, and if you happen to buy stuff at Walmart their MCC is General Merchandise Retailer. There is not a separate MCC based on what you buy. There is not a separate MCC for each cash register at the store.

    The only significant effect that the new MCC for firearms retailers would have in the real world is that if you shop using a credit card at stores coded with the new “Firearms Retailer” MCC instead of the old “Sporting Goods Retailer” code is that you might start getting more junk mail advertising guns and ammo instead of junk mail advertising seasonal sporting goods like skis, fishing rods, etc.

    The fear mongers would have you believe that each individual purchase will magically be recorded on your “Permanent Record” which is laughable nonsense.

    The more rational argument is that at some point in the future your credit card company could suddenly say “We won’t process charges for Firearms Retailers” — that one is possible but they can do that now already — a couple of the card processing companies already won’t handle gun shops as clients. Does anyone really think that Master Card doesn’t already know that Ky Gun Co sells guns and ammo?

    Fighting against the Firearms Retailer MCC is a perfectly reasonable way to flex our muscles and demonstrate our strength in those solidly red state legislatures where this is an easy win, but it is not worth expending much effort on and it absolutely is NOT worth giving up anything in the sort of “Compromise” that the NRA is infamous for.

    • Good explanation. If a buyer wishes to purchase a weapon or ammo using his credit card, he should make certain to do so in a state that does not require a firearms retailer to use the specific MCC code for “firearm retailer.”

      This also puts the lie to gun-control activist organizations’ contentions that the MCC can be used as a tool to flag certain “suspicious” firearm and ammo purchases.

      • A complicated subject such as this, especially when there are numerous misconceptions to clear up, can’t be distilled into a single paragraph. You might consider working on increasing your attention span, researching other sources on the topic, or scrolling past subjects that you’re unable to grasp.

    • “What they have not known — and still won’t know — is what you bought, how many items you bought, or what each item cost.”

      I read your argument as being, a special MCC for firearms retailers isn’t any worse than a Sporting Goods Retailer MCC. I argue otherwise, for a couple reasons. First, there is no reason to create more specific categories than the general ones already in use, when you look at it from a business standpoint, unless you want to make a connection for some other reason. That information is not necessary for the business functioning of the system.

      Second, it’s not necessarily just the MCC that will be created for firearms retailers that is the problem. It’s the iceberg of records that will be connected to the tip that the MCC will represent. Many retailers already use a computerized inventory system that is connected to their card processing equipment. Card transaction receipts list individual items with SKUs and prices, along with type of card used and a unique transaction number. Many firearm retailers are beginning to use computerized 4473 forms, and it’s no stretch to having the receipt linked to the 4473. So, you have an itemized receipt with a customer name on it, connected to a 4473 that has serial numbers on it, in a chain of data that begins with the MCC for Firearms Retailer. The items purchased data on the receipt currently isn’t being sent to the card processor along with the card data and total cost (well, it’s not supposed to be sent), but it’s all there, and a simple software tweak can include it.

      Third, even though it isn’t done today, it wouldn’t be difficult to assign multiple MCCs to a single retailer. It’s just computer code, after all.

      All of that data can be made into linked searchable databases, and having a specific Firearms Retailer MCC can be used to filter out all the tents, fishing bobbers, pairs of wool socks, canoe paddles, tennis rackets, etc. that would be included in a search of Sporting Goods. When you can trace all the way down to a single 4473 from a computer terminal in some office or basement, you got the makings of a genuine firearm owner database, baby. With the right access, a guy could search for buyers of Ruger GP100s in Ashland County, OH and get your info and a serial number from a purchase you made at The Fin, plug your address into Google Maps, and then scope out the front of your house, all from his computer.

      Pooh-pooh it if you want, and say it isn’t happening and it never will, but why would we want to make this any easier than it already is? It’s just a matter of linking databases, and creating a special Firearms Retailer MCC can be one step in the linking process.


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