Visa, Mastercard Suspend Plans To Track Gun Purchases After Blowback
AR-15-style rifles are on display at Freddie Bear Sports gun shop in Tinley Park, Illinois, on Aug. 8, 2019. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Visa and Mastercard paused plans to track gun and ammunition purchases after receiving blowback to the plan from gun rights advocates and supporters.

The payment processors announced last year that they would adopt the International Organization for Standardization’s new merchant category code that could be used to better track gun and ammunition purchases from gun stores. The move riled gun rights supporters and provoked Republican lawmakers and attorneys general to take action against the payment processors.

Visa, the world’s largest payment processor, and Mastercard are now pausing adoption of the new code after the stiff opposition and in the face of several states moving forward with legislation that would block such tracking, according to Bloomberg.

“There are bills advancing in several states related to the use of this new code. If passed, the result will be an inconsistency in how this ISO standard could be applied by merchants, issuers, acquirers and networks,” a spokesman for Visa told Bloomberg. “It’s for that reason that we have decided to pause work on the implementation of the firearms-specific MCC.”

Second Amendment supporters hailed the announcement as a victory for gun rights.

“Well done, it’s about time. US companies should not be taking orders from international NGOs to target legal industries,” said Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN). “This politicization of our financial sector must stop.”

Nearly two dozen GOP attorneys general sent a letter to Visa, Mastercard, and American Express in September over plans to adopt the new code and track gun and ammo purchases. The state prosecutors warned the companies that such tracking could be used to infringe on Americans’ Second Amendment rights

“Categorizing the constitutionally protected right to purchase firearms unfairly singles out law-abiding merchants and consumers alike,” the attorneys general wrote. “We will marshal the full scope of our lawful authority to protect our citizens and consumers from unlawful attempts to undermine their constitutional rights.”


Republicans in Congress expressed similar concerns. They said that the new code could be a workaround to creating a gun registry monitored by private corporations instead of by the federal government.

The credit card companies moved to adopt the code after facing pressure from Democrats who said that tracking gun purchases could cut down on mass shootings.

“Credit card companies like @Visa, @Mastercard, and @AmericanExpress can and should do more to help stop mass shootings,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) tweeted on September 6, adding that she is “urging these companies to step up and help identify suspicious purchases to prevent gun violence.”

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