Visa, Mastercard and American Express to Swiftly Adopt New Codes to Help Report Dangerous Gun Purchases to Law Enforcement
NEW YORK — Everytown for Gun Safety issued the following statements applauding the swift adoption by major credit card companies – Visa, Mastercard and American Express – of new “merchant category codes” for firearm stores. This change, which was proposed by Amalgamated Bank and approved last week by a subcommittee of the International Organization for Standardization, will better allow banks and credit card companies to report suspicious and potentially illegal gun sales to law enforcement.
Everytown’s senior vice president of law and policy, Nick Suplina, joined Amalgamated Bank CEO Priscilla Sims Brown, New York Attorney General Tish James, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, and other elected officials and advocates at a press conference today celebrating the decision. For years, Everytown has advocated for financial institutions to help reduce gun violence by adopting and following responsible business practices.
“This new policy is a fitting tribute to the victims of mass shootings in Aurora, Las Vegas, and Orlando, all of which were perpetuated by domestic terrorists who bought tens of thousands of dollars worth of guns on credit without a single flag being raised,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Now it’s vital that merchants and banks implement this code swiftly, before more guns end up in the wrong hands.”
“Everyone has a role to play in combating our gun violence epidemic, including financial institutions who with these new codes can help report potentially dangerous purchases by mass shooters or domestic terrorists,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “While the gun industry that is more focused on lining its pockets than keeping our communities safe has strongly opposed this effort, we’re encouraged to see such broad and swift adoption of these new codes and look forward to continuing to work with the financial sector on ways they can do their part to help save lives.”
“Combatting gun violence in our nation requires a multi-faceted approach — including providing tools to banks and credit card companies to recognize suspicious transactions,” said Nick Suplina, senior vice president of law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety. “These new codes and their swift adoption by payment processors are a welcome development in helping to prevent tragedy before it happens.”
Merchant category codes are used to classify different types of businesses by the types of goods and services sold. Until this decision, gun and ammunition stores did not have a unique code. Amalgamated Bank filed a petition to the International Standards Organization, which governs these codes, to apply for the creation of a gun store code.
A gun store code is one piece of data needed for banks to identify transactions that may be related to mass shootings or gun-related domestic terrorism. This data would help banks and financial institutions report suspicious gun purchasing activity to law enforcement, consistent with their existing obligations to report suspicious activity related to terrorism financing and other illicit activities.