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A national debate has emerged over gun sale tracking as states adopt conflicting laws regarding the use of retail codes for firearms transactions. As reported earlier, a California law went into effect today that mandates credit card networks like Visa and Mastercard to assign special retail codes to gun stores, enabling banks to track their sales. Advocates believe this measure could help identify suspicious purchases and prevent mass shootings.

Conversely, new laws in Georgia, Iowa, Tennessee and Wyoming prohibit the use of such codes. These states are among 17 with Republican-led legislatures that have enacted measures to restrict or ban the tracking of gun store sales through specific category codes and protect the privacy of its citizens.

“The merchant category code is the first step in the banking system saying, ‘Enough! We’re putting our foot down. You cannot use our system to facilitate gun crimes,’” Hudson Munoz, executive director of Guns Down America, an advocacy group supporting the tracking codes, told the Altoona Mirror.

However, opponents argue that these codes could lead to unjustified suspicion of lawful gun buyers. Lawrence Keane, senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation and a contributor to TTAG, expressed concerns that the retail code could be a preliminary move by gun-control advocates to restrict the legal commerce of firearms.

“We view this as a first step by gun-control supporters to restrict the lawful commerce in firearms,” Keane said.

The debate over these tracking measures reflects broader partisan divides on gun policy. Democratic-led states like Colorado and New York have joined California in requiring the new tracking codes, while Republican-led states have pushed back with legislation to ban them.

The controversy over retail codes for gun sales is part of a larger national discourse on gun violence. Recently, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy declared gun violence a public health crisis, noting a rise in firearm-related deaths, which exceeded 48,000 in 2022. This declaration has been justifiably met with criticism from the NRA and other gun rights advocates.

States are also divided on other gun policies with freedom and responsibility winning out in Republican-led states. For instance, Louisiana will soon become the 29th state to allow residents to carry concealed guns without a permit. In contrast, Democratic-led New Mexico has introduced stricter gun control measures, including a seven-day waiting period for gun purchases, more than double the federal background check period.

This legislative tug-of-war extends to responses to mass shootings. Following a tragic incident in Maine where 18 people were killed, the state’s Democratic-led legislature enacted various gun restrictions. Meanwhile, after school shootings in Iowa and Tennessee, Republican legislatures have moved to allow more trained teachers to carry firearms in classrooms.

The new California law requires credit card networks to make the firearms code available to financial institutions by Monday. These institutions then have until May 1 to categorize their business clients accordingly. Visa has already updated its merchant data manual to comply with the law. Colorado and New York have aligned their laws to take effect next May.

Critics, such as Dan Eldridge, owner of Maxon Shooter’s Supplies in Chicago, argue that the merchant code may drive more gun buyers to use cash to maintain privacy.

“Viewed most benignly, this code is an effort to stigmatize gun owners,” Eldridge told WISN News. “But a more worrisome concern is that this is another private sector end run around the prohibition against the federal government creating a gun registry.”

Iowa state Sen. Jason Schultz, a Republican sponsor of legislation banning the firearms code, voiced fears that federal agents could misuse purchase data to infringe on Second Amendment rights.

“States are going to have to make a choice whether they want to follow California or whether they’d like to support the original intent of the U.S. Constitution,” Schultz told WISN.

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  1. Those codes are not a way to track gun sales. This entire thing is ridiculous. These people have no way to tell the difference between a $600 boat from Academy and a $600 gun from Bass Pro Shop.

    • You’re missing the point. The Government doesn’t care if it was a gun or a boat. They’d happily kick down your door after you bought a boat just IN CASE it might have been a gun.

      In other words, if you spend “gun amounts of money” at a store that also sells guns, you’re guilty until proven innocent.

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      • Then it truly is not about guns at all!

        It’s about spending money at Academy (and like stores).

        The threat isn’t firearms. Government and credit card companies don’t want Academy to exist. The company is the problem. Instead of just gun

        • “The threat isn’t firearms.”

          Of course the threat is firearms. They don’t care if you buy a boat at the local marina. They ONLY care if you spend money at ANY STORE that sells guns.

          You have to be a little less obvious if you want to be taken seriously.

      • Never mind credit card antics when after nearly 4 years of demoRat Gun Control there are still Gun talking blowbags today helping joe biden by crying about bumpstocks and regurgitating hearsay about POTUS DJT. Never mind the fact if a knee jerk congress had taken the wheel and overridden a veto there would have been a lot more products taken off the shelves than bumpstocks, try reversing an Act of Congress. Instead politically inept dumbfuks read the bumpstock headlines and ran to hold hands with Gun Control democRats to throw POTUS DJT under the bus…Every gun talking blowbag who participated owns a bit of biden.

        This close to a crucial election…Any self-server who continues to hold hands with Gun Control democRats to slander POTUS DJT is far, far more of a problem for America than a credit card company monitoring frearm purchases, etc.

    • Prndll, fact that you actually believe that is cute…naive as a two year old with a book of matches..but cute.

      • The fact that so many people actually believe that there isn’t a gun registry is what’s cute. We are fighting against that at every angle when it’s already there.

      • The codes in question are what indicate various types of retailers.

        Pharmacy vs. Department Store

        With a code that signifies a place that sells guns then you are setting up stores to either stop selling guns or go out of business. This is a multi prong attack at not only firearms but also this country’s businesses. Part of this though is that ultimately it hurts credit card companies. There are already new card companies starting up for the expressed purpose of being ‘conservative’ as a rival to the existing big names.

        • I get you Prndll but what about a store that only sells guns and or ammo. They are putting not only you but your local LGS in the crosshairs so to speak.

          • That was part of the response that got moderated.

            This is not against guns half as much as it’s against any retailer that sells them. Many do.

        • I used to give the government the benefit of the doubt. No longer! I was under the influence of naivite. I thought the alphabet agencies were awesome! Efram Zimbalist Jr a true hero that was more awesome than Superman could ever be. Protecting us from evil. Shame on me fool me once, won’t be shamed or fooled again.

          • It isn’t a thing to doubt.

            The udea here is for a credit card company to see that your trying to buy something at a store that sells guns and then deny the transaction. Because they are given a code based on the type of business it is. This code is setup at the beginning when the business starts using CC machines for payment.

            This is the way it works. It isn’t tied to a specific item. Wether that transaction is a single thing or a hundred things. The thing that recorded the firearm serial number and the name of the buyer is thd 4473. THAT form is the real problem here when it comes to gun registries.

            Now it might be possible to cross reference the CC holder to the 4473. Something that becomes extremely easy as these forms go electronic. If THAT is what is getting people so upset then we should be discussing it.

            I am not in favor of this nonsense. But people do need to understand what merchant codes are and are not.

            • There are a couple different ways to run a card transaction. One amounts to the old school method of running it through a roller that presses the card info into a paper receipt with carbon copies, and the papers are later added up and reported to the processor. Used to do it by phone and/or mail. Now, we do it with a standalone terminal, that records a transaction total amount along with card data, and then it reports to the processor as part of a batch, in the evening after we close. With this method, there is no information about specific purchased items that is sent to the processor (unless it was written onto the paper receipt that was mailed in).

              The newer POS terminals (point of sale), as well as online card transactions, are often tied into a retailer’s internal inventory and pricing system. Your Walmart, Kroger, Lowes, etc. receipt may list all the items you purchased along with their inventory numbers, descriptions, and prices, as well as the method of payment and abbreviated card info, and the purchase data may be transmitted in real time or later in batches, depending on their processor.

              Now the data on that POS receipt is the point of contention. It’s just a matter of a software switch, really just a couple zeroes and ones in the code, that can cause the terminal to send all the data on that receipt to the processor, including item number and description and price, as well as the total purchase amount.

              Sure they want to disrupt gun store sales, but they also want to know who buys what, and the new processing systems make it a piece of cake.

      • Unfortunately I am very willing to bet most firearm and ammo sales that keep a lot of these businesses open are not cash.

      • isn’t gadsten the shiny penny…next there will be legislation for a firearm purchase to be by credit or debit card only.

    • I’ve been paying cash for pretty much all in-person purchases my entire life. It’s actually strange to me whenever I see people whipping out plastic. I have CCs, of course, but only for emergencies.

      I find it interesting that inflation has been prompting smaller businesses near me to now offer discounts for cash, which I happily accept while the other customers around me keep paying full price for the privilege of giving up their privacy.

      • What we all (often guilty of this myself) have to remember when large programs or practices like this get pushed is it’s not about us. There is a large plurality if not majority to which these things are designed for that only peripherally effect us initially. But to get a lot of new registry entries with greater detail and potentially have a chilling effect on purchases and/or increase the costs of doing business while maybe killing a few shops is a whole lot of chaos for minimal investment on their part.

      • We do cash discount pricing, and it did shift our customers’ payment habits a bit away from credit cards. We did it to reduce our processing costs, and we now pay a third of what it used to be. I decided to get back a bit more of the money that the card companies take in, so I got a cash back card for the company, that I use for most parts purchases. I pay it off every month, and I get 1.5% back on every alternator, brake rotor, spark plug, etc. that I buy for a repair, and it amounts to a couple hondo a month cash back.

    • It isn’t about the CC companies making money. You can certainly pay cash and remove them from the equation. But that does not actually solve the problem.

  2. Seems like if one were wanting to buy a gun, it would be a good idea to order from an FFL in a state that prohibited these codes. Once they ship to your own state, it’s not a purchase, just a small transfer fee, which would be easy enough to pay in cash.

    • Someone should post and maintain the official list of states that prohibit the use of the codes! Google wasn’t very helpful after a short search.

    • Ha… if I were a FFL in a code-prohibited state with a sizeable on-line sales volume, I would SHOUT OUT LOUD that fact on all my web pages!



    • $75 to $100 for the dealer transfer fee, plus the $37 California background check fee (most of which goes to “gun violence research”), plus sales tax (nominally 7.25%, higher in some cities/counties. Sales tax is payable in the state to which the firearm is transferred), plus the newly enacted 11% excise tax. Plus shipping, of course. So add about $350 plus in cash over the cost of a $1000 firearm to keep the credit card baddies out of your business.

      • That’s California. Not anywhere else, at least not that bad.

        Most other states: ~$20 transfer fee to the FFL (yes you might have to shop around.) ~$2 background check fee.

        Sales tax is a wash, gotta pay that no matter what.


  3. Sorry No Cash Sales.
    We Accept Visa or Mastercard.
    why do people use credit cards anyway?
    I’ve heard the can’t get robbed, its convenient, line of sht.
    One of these days when cash is no longer available Americans are going to be sorry. Every thing you buy, ever where you go, everything you say ,will be charted.
    GpS trackers in cars, cell phones, satellite surveillance, a camera on every corner, long distance voice recognition .
    Everything we do and everything we say.
    Big Brother is Watching.
    It’s called Freedom.
    Oh, and I got tired of Google spying on me so I downloaded the Google Can’t Spy app. You can download it too for free, just go to the Google Play Store.

  4. How are credit card companies supposed to spot “suspicious” gun/ammo purchases? And why should they have any business doing so? They are not law enforcement, and they are not authorized to engage in law enforcement activities, Moreover the states enacting these laws have universal gun registration laws as it is, so what more can they possibly learn? This is just another attempt to enroll private business in suppressing Second Amendment activities, just like when Obama had the banks all atwitter trying to shut down loans to gun businesses, perhaps hoping to avoid the inevitable civil rights litigation if the state governments did it themselves without complying with the warrant requirements.

    • Thats what im thinking too. And hows this supposed to stop any mass shootings? Somebody somewhere actually believes that it will. Apparently the little guy from Us Against Gunms or whatever in the article believes it.

    • I agree.

      Biden has been attacking gun dealers across the board by any means possible.

      There is nothing in these codes that encapsulates firearm serial numbers or indicates someone has purchased a Glock. It doesn’t even show that someone purchased a gun. This is why doing this is just as stupid as machining ID codes onto firing pins. The point of this isn’t to track firearms. It’s to track firearm dealers. The problem though is that it doesn’t do a very good job at either one. But then it’s par for the course with all the rest of the craziness the left loves to do.

      Just about the only thing any of this lunacy does well is gaslighting.

  5. I like a 10-22. Tripped over an International at a very good price a couple of years ago. $400. I scooped it without a quibble.

    • With most of what I own on my permit to begin with and the rest on ATF paper either method doesn’t really matter. For those that came into firearms without a paper trail via various methods…….yeah cash would be king…..as would home repair for anything.

  6. BREAKING: Supreme Court Rules Presidents Have Absolute Immunity (my note: ruling granting former President Donald Trump immunity from federal prosecution over his actions after the 2020 election. In a 6-3 ruling on Monday, the Supreme Court found for Trump, that (he) presidents are granted ‘absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for actions within (his) their conclusive and preclusive constitutional authority’ and ‘presumptive immunity’ for all official acts. However, it held there is no immunity for ‘unofficial’ acts. Democrats are really upset and have almost unanimously denounced the decision. As an aside, Biden can now be prosecuted, hopefully, for his crimes of money laundering and influence peddling, and maybe some more (possibly human trafficking related and others) as those are not official acts thus not covered under presidential immunity. The decision drastically ‘undercuts’, to use a kind word, more like probably destroyed, special counsel Jack Smith’s Jan. 6 Capitol riot case against Trump.)

  7. What happens if I go to a Guns & Sports shop. Then I buy a, say, Leica spektive (that is a lot of money and goes into the same merchant category of a camera.
    Then, as soon as I swiped my card I change my mind, get a refund bonus and I spend it for an AR15, and some related goods?
    (asking for a friend)

    • That new scan code squiggle that’s popping up everywhere has way more information on it then a bar code.
      Everything is going to have it on it PDQ.


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