House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (NY) on Wednesday penned a letter with 100 of her colleagues, asking credit card companies to explain the implementation of the new firearms-specific merchant codes.
The letter comes after the International Organization for Standardization (IOS) approved a new merchant code for firearms after NYC Mayor Eric Adams and Sen. Elizabeth Warren pushed for the financial move.
What the Letter States About Firearm Merchant Codes
“It has been widely reported that American Express, Mastercard, and Visa did not support this application,” the letter indicated. “Specifically, Visa recently stated that they ‘believe that asking payment networks to serve as a moral authority by deciding which legal goods can and cannot be purchased sets a dangerous precedent.’ We count not agree more.”
According to the members of Congress, the ISO created a firearms-specific code as a way of pleasing liberal activists and politicians that take aim at the Second Amendment.
The signers shared similar concerns to those expressed here at Armed American News: “… there is no accepted, consistent, scientific, or legitimate way to determine from this data what is and what is not a ‘suspicious’ purchase.” What’s considered “suspicious” is in the eye of the beholder.
The representatives indicated the merchant code change is a way to hinder Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
“…this is a transparent attempt to chill the exercise of constitutionally protected rights and to circumvent existing legal restrictions on the creation of firearm registries by the government.”
The Questions Raised for Credit Card Companies
Stefanik and her colleagues raised a number of questions for the credit card companies:
1. Does Visa support the recent decision by the ISO to create a unique MCC for firearm retailers? If so, what was the reason for changing your view, as it was widely reported you opposed Amalgamated Bank’s twice denied initial application in 2021?
2. What criteria will Visa utilize to flag transactions? How were these criteria devised, and what evidence, if any, is there that they will effectively focus only on criminal intent and not on purchases – including high dollar or high-volume purchases made for entirely lawful and legitimate reasons? Will Visa publish for the public and their card users the criteria used to flag so-called suspicious activity?
3. How will Visa inform consumers on the impacts of this implementation? Does Visa plan to notify and solicit feedback from consumers during this process?
4. Will Visa notify customers when their lawful transactions have been flagged and sent to law enforcement? If not, why does Visa not believe this notification is important to the consumer?
5. Has your company considered the reputational risks and the possible implications for your fiduciary duties to shareholders of potentially angering or alienating a large percentage of America’s more than 100 million gun owners or the millions more who wish to purchase or own firearms without being subject to intrusive surveillance or registration?
6. Are you aware that federal law contains multiple restrictions on the creation of a national firearm registry and that this move by your company could be perceived as a bad faith attempt to circumvent those restrictions?
7. Did you solicit any input from experts in the: firearm industry or from any Second Amendment advocacy groups before making this decision to help determine its impact on lawful commercial activity and the exercise of constitutional rights?
8. Are you aware of data compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice showing that only a very small percentage of criminals who illegally use firearms obtain those firearms directly from the sorts of federally licensed dealers who will be subject to those new MCC? Did you consider this data or do other independent due diligence before moving forward with this effort?
Let’s see if we’ll actually receive answers to these vital questions.