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California gun owners have long been besieged by a lengthy list of unjust, unconstitutional firearm laws that make practicing their Second Amendment right more difficult. And a new law that just took effect is going to make freedom even more scarce in The Golden State.

The new law, passed by the legislature last year and signed by anti-gun Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom, required credit card networks to make a new firearm-specific Merchant Category Code (MCC) available to banks and other financial institutions by Monday.

At issue is a special MCC for gun and ammunition purchases adopted last year by the International Organization for Standardization. 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, basically creating a de facto registry of firearms and firearm owners.

While many find that distasteful—even illegal—California Democrats and Newsom embraced the idea. Consequently, for any firearms or ammunition now purchased in California with a credit card, there is a record kept that it was for a firearm or related product.

As NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action has pointed out in the past, collecting firearm retailer financial transaction data amounts to surveillance and registration of law-abiding gun owners. Those promoting this scheme are in favor of firearm and gun owner registration. Consequently, it should be assumed that the goal of this program is to share all collected firearm retailer MCC data with government authorities and potentially private third parties that might include gun control organizations and anti-gun researchers.

Being able to know if a purchase was for a gun or ammo must sound like a great idea to Newsom and his gun-ban cronies, and a few other states have passed similar laws, including Colorado and New York. However, just as with many gun-related issues, while California seeks to punish gun owners, many states have sought to protect them from such overreach as the use of the new gun-specific MCC. In fact, more than a dozen states have passed laws outlawing the uses of such codes, including nine states—Indiana, Utah, Wyoming, Kentucky, Iowa, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Delaware—just passed such measures this year.

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65 COMMENTS

  1. Methinks even the NRA is clueless as to how merchant codes work. Since a merchant code covers EVERYTHING sold by a retailer when that retailer sells a deer stand or a gunsafe it will look no different than a rifle or pistol. Since my usual gun shop charges more for a credit card sale than cash, I haven’t used a card there in decades.

    • I’ve been fortunate enough to have NEVER paid for ammo or guns with credit cards; as an electrician for over 45 years, copper scrap, salvage equipment, and an occasional side job kept me in spending money safe from both uncle sam and my wife’s watchful eyes…. ” no honey, I’ve had this one for eons ” – while trying to make room in the safe fo the latest acquisition.

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  2. So how does this work across the US? Some states mandate the codes and others made it illegal. I would think the software issue is very complicated to have both codes and non-codes depending on the state. Or will the card companies just implement codes everywhere anyway and hope they are not caught?

    Anyone know and understand the enforcement mechanisms of both sides of the card codes?

    On a tangent thought; anti-2A groups would lose their collective shit if they saw the amount of Citizens that purchase thousands of rounds at one time. Makes me snicker.

    • The short version is all this data has been getting collected all along and it will continue to get collected regardless of state or federal legality because numbers in a database are just that until somebody somewhere down the line sees a reason to extract that data. Markers can be placed after the fact to pull the unsorted data as long as there is consistency in how the data is collected which is automated so there will be consistency.

      There is nothing happening electronically that is not being saved, sorted and stored for whatever future purpose may come along. Storage is cheap and data is gold.

    • Sort of like reading the news stories after the latest shootings
      …. ” and the shooter had an arsenal of six rifles, shotguns, and handguns and nearly 500 rounds of ammunition – some loaded into large capacity clips. More on the story at eleven. ”
      tee hee hee…

  3. Ya know I talked to my friend the other day about not using a credit card to purchase gats. “But I get points & perks” he said. He lives in Indiana now & happily buys at Cabela’s.(He gets deals from a counter guy) Oh well! Cabela’s in Hammond,Indiana happily turned over years of gat records to Chiraq & Gary,Indiana. Funny thing I witnessed a straw purchase there a few years ago. I did buy a Pardner Pump shotgun there about 12 years ago. And ton’s of ammo,a holster, & a scope. I have never bought anything gat related with any card.

  4. If you must use credit simply draw some cash and pay for your firearm. No way the anti-gun empire can trace what you purchased.

    I have been hoping that someone would start an initiative in their state that would ban collection of personal data. Once implemented other states could use that law as a template.

    The whole economy seems to be driven by the sale of our personal data. I hope it stops before the gov’t begins to use it against us.

    • There’s a 20% withdrawal fee on most credit cards.

      What is needed is another credit mechanism that is outside the use of these codes.

    • What do you mean? ‘begins to…”

      They are and have been. What do you think this article is? Using fear to control people. They did the same thing all during COVID.

  5. Not good for people in the boonies who order online. Few online ammo shops take “cash” in the form of direct transfers. The only one I know of is Bud’s. And yes, as Shire-man mentioned above, the credit card companies are collecting this data for all transactions, no matter what the state.

    The gun advocacy organizations need to start taking this crap to court. Issues like this is why I give them money.

    In the meantime, I’ve got to organize trips to ammo shops several hours away in order to pay cash. One problem with this, the ammo selection online is much better than in store. Before our local FFL was closed by the ATF, I had a good relationship with the owner, whereby I could pay a cash deposit and bulk order ammo through him. But, thanks to the ATF’s overzealous enforcement, I can no longer do that.

    F* these people, and the horses they rode in on.

    • If I go to Academy, I could pay with cash and walk out just as if I bought anything else they sell. Ammo can be bought with cash at the gun store or local range but then they want to see my drivers license. Which is worse in my opinion.

      • I’ve never shown my license at the gun store when buying ammo cash — this includes Cabela’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse.

        • Most people that bought a Walther PK380 don’t seem to have problems. I got rid of the one I had because it was nothing but malfunctions.

          The average person makes it through the 4473 with no hickups. But the ones that do…

        • Maybe Prndll looks 16 years old & was checked for age.

          I’ve bought most of my recent ammo at Academy using cash, never had to show my Driver’s License.
          They did inform me that my purchase was Non-Returnable, to which I replied Thank God !!!

          • Never been carded at academy. But there is a range I frequent that requires a drivers license for any and every transaction.

    • As this scans your drivers license, THIS is more of a dangerous way to go as far as tracking people and their ammo purchasing choices. How is this any better than having you license scanned at the register by a clerk?

      Is this the store doing this or is it really more like the RedBox that dispense DVD/Blueray movies?

      • no one is claiming its better in any ID aspect.

        As for ‘dangerous’ in the ID aspect, how so? I mean there is nothing in the state that requires records be kept of who buys ammo is there? So if no records are kept then no tracking. At checkout with a real person your ID would be ‘scanned’ (visually) by the checkout clerk to verify age if it was needed anyway. the machine just does it for everyone.

        • State law requiring it (or not) does not mean it isn’t there.

          ID’ing the buyer and being able to track who buys what seems to be the whole point in this conversation. That is a thing regarding the CC code in question and in the required step of scanning drivers licences. Otherwise, that would not be a part of the process.

          The machine doing for everyone is at the heart of this entire issue.

  6. What EXACTLY is the record being kept? Show us the code. People need to see the SPECIFIC code in question. I want to see the receipt data that the CC company gets that spells out the particular firearm and it’s serial number. This article talks about this in such generic terms that there is NOTHING here. Don’t you think everyone should have an adequate understanding as to what these companies are doing?

    We are always told about some new hack, virus, or vulnerability that you have to get an update to fix. Well, what exactly is the issue?

    If you cannot be all that SPECIFIC then this all becomes nothing more than gaslighting. Just what is it we are fighting for here? Because up to this point, it’s chasing shadows.

    • the issue is the tracking capability nailed down to a specific category that can be used to identify a specific person for that specific category THEN it being used to basically ‘investigate’ the person without warrant or cause ‘when ever they want and cause they say so’.

      Its used to ‘persecute’ a specific class of people by subjecting them to unwarranted ‘investigatory’ surveillance by the state. Hitler did the same thing to the Jews, placed them under persecutory surveillance through a variety of methods from property records to bank accounts to requiring purchases reported by merchants and more.

      it’s an unwarranted search/surveillance technique the state is exploiting through the CC companies and its the state squarely aiming it at the exercise of a constitutional right and using it to ‘persecute’ a specific class of citizens and its used to ‘chill’ the exercise of the right.

      imagine if the state did this for computers and cell phone purchase, there would be a tremendous uproar from the people over first amendment rights.

      • I’m not disagreeing with you that it gets used for that purpose. But that wasn’t my question.

        What is part of this is the idea of tracking a ‘category’ vs. the make, model, and serial number of what you bought for making a registry. Those are two distinctly separate things.

        • They don’t track your firearms serial number. The code shows that this was a firearm purchase or this was an ammo purchase. Per the govs BS argument, it is meant for them to only see who is purchasing large amounts of firearms and ammo. But with the way the media talks 4 firearms and 500 rounds is an arsenal.
          It is as .40 cal said, to “‘persecute’ a specific class of citizens and its used to ‘chill’ the exercise of the right.”
          And IMO it violates the 4th Amendment.

          • That atleast makes more sense. But even then, the only way to even pinpoint down to that is with an actual gun store. not so much with a store that just sells guns.

            I’ve been saying all along that this does not carry with it any kind of serial number. Without that you can’t have a registry. The best you can do is say that ‘this guys card was used at a place that sells guns’.

            I agree this is all just bs.

      • Then there is the difference between Hitlers Jews and the American citizen.
        American Citizens have Arms.
        As was intended when the Second Amendment was placed in the Bill of Rights.
        What is Freedom when the people fear their government?

  7. Our data collection back in the day helped the Nazi’s track, locate and round up Jews and that was 80 years ago.

    We are so very proud of our company.

    • And that was done with punch cards. The current digital electric storage is far faster is far more extensive and with fast internet it is accessible far from where it is actually stored.

  8. Yep, that digital 4473 they use at most of the big box stores like Cabelas gets uploaded to ATF on a regular basis.

    • I work in the industry at a family owned local shop. We ONLY use PAPAER F4473’s. You can’t hack paper, you can’t download paper either. The ATF has been trying to force us to go digital so they can audit us in in 2 hours with one compliance inspector. With electronic F4473’s they could download 5,000 transactions in seconds. Because we use paper forms, it takes 3 inspectors 3 days to complete their audits. Paper forms are the best protection for privacy for our customers. Until federal law requires us to use electronic F4473’s (the software of which are run by private 3rd party companies who have access to all the customer’s info) we will only use paper forms.

    • Is there any doubt that it’s the same way with the kiosks for buying suppressors? That’s the thing here. All electronic and fast because it works around all those troublesome paperwork issues that make things take so long. There simply is more steps to NFA items. But it’s pretty much the same thing.

  9. I’ve been thinking about this gunm tracking buisness.
    And what I thought of was a scene off Outlaw Josie Wells.
    Endeavor to persevere.

  10. Simple solution: Never buy a darn thing in California or from California. Vote with your feet smd your dollars or quit whining.

  11. California is a free state. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. You are free to defecate and urinate in public. You are free to have sex in public on days, the government gives you permission.

    You are free to use drugs in public. You are free to steal up to $950. And you will not be arrested.

    California is a “free” state.

    You have no need for a gun. Since drugs have been legalized and all the crime has gone away.

    • In Kentucky the meaning of decadent is having ten or more of your own teeth left. Deca (ten) + dent (teeth.)

      They are jealous of the extreme decadence of states like California.

  12. In that link, if you click on ‘Visa merchant data standards manual’ there us a listing for a new code ‘MCC 5723 – guns and ammunition shops (effective july 1, 2024)’ on page three.

    Now, someone please explain to me how THIS code can distinguish between Academy and Walmart. How does this in itself indicate that I purchased a firearm? Much less something to be registered? What I am seeing is a serious push to drive up business for Academy (or split them in two).

    This is for establishment that sell firearms, firearm accessories, and ammunition. It singles them out. Of course a more in depth investigation can turn up and prove all kinds of things but that’s the case anyway. I see NOTHING here that can by itself be used for creating any kind of registry. Perhaps that this person vs. that person is more likely to own guns. But how is this different from using your credit card at the same shooting range for five years?

    I find this whole thing incredibly stupid. On every side. It makes as much sense to do this as it does to serialize every single part inside a gun or to microstamp a firing pin. It creates problems while solving nothing. Making it a complete waist of money and resources.

    • People that have guns.com listed on their statement regularly are more likely to be gun owners. That doesn’t mean they actually are though but that distinction isn’t likely to stop a prosecutor.

      It’s just like having a “come and take it” flag on your front lawn or a Glock sticker on your rear window.

      How many Midwayusa purchases with a credit card do you think it takes before someone that’s looking will notice?

          • I take it you automatically trust that large corperations are honest in their business practices, or that data they share with the public is somehow magically transparent. lol. It’s almost like the interests of large corperations could never ever be misused for politic purposes. Any other tepid replies that provide a comical defense.

            • If I trusted what I was told, I wouldn’t still be questioning this. I’m asking questions and ALL I’m hearing is ‘the sky is falling’. If you think that makes me an apoligist then all that says to me is that your more in the dark about this as I am.

              • No, actually it doesn’t. It makes me a realist. The stated purpose of the California legislation IS to track gun and ammo purchased. It’s almost like the strawman argument TeLl Me eXaCtLy hOw It WiLl Be UsED is a red herring. It’s a stupid question as the answers are that it will be plainly abused to enforce gun control as other state laws and local ordinances are in liberal, progressive led regions. Acting otherwise is overt ignorance and arguing over that point makes you look like an obvious gun control advocate.

                Frankly this is an intrusion on private purchases that the government and frankly the payment gateways have no business tracking. I for one, can’t wait until the states start tracking and monitoring other civil rights like abortion related expenses for criminal activity. Then the left might actually care that intrusion into our civil rights is actually really a problem.

              • @ JohnSmythe
                That might be the stated purpose but it doesn’t do that.

                The stated purpose of the COVID shots were to protect the health of the population but that didn’t actually do that either.

                Every time the left ‘states a purpose’, it’s not what they are telling you.

  13. Que the CoMmOn SeNse GuN CoNtRoL and ThIs IsN’T a vIoLaTiOn oF YoUr PrIvAcY BeCaUse My StuPid QuEsTiOnS ThAt I ShOuLd Be WaItiNg FoR tHe LeFt tO ImPlEmeNt In 3 2 1.

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