Credit Card Firms to Track California Gun Shop Purchases With Special Merchant Code

( — Credit card companies are preparing to provide California gun retailers with a new merchant code specifically for the purchase of firearms and ammo to comply with the state’s new law that permits banks to track potentially suspicious gun purchases and report them to law enforcement, CBS News reported.

Currently, gun stores share the same 4-digit merchant code as other types of retailers, like sporting goods stores. The codes allow credit card companies to gather information about a cardholder’s purchase history.

American Express, Mastercard, and Visa initially agreed to implement a separate merchant code for firearms retailers but later put the plan on hold after blowback from gun rights advocates who feared that tracking gun purchases would infringe on the Second Amendment rights of legal gun owners.

Legislatures in at least seven states have banned the code for gun and ammo purchases, while another nine states are considering similar legislation.

However, California enacted a law requiring gun retailers to adopt the merchant code by May 2025.

According to documents obtained by CBS News, in January, American Express, Mastercard, and Visa notified congressional Democrats that the firearms merchant code would be available to California retailers by the May 2025 deadline.

Proponents of the stand-alone merchant code argue that tracking the purchase of firearms could help prevent gun violence.

In a December statement, congressional Democrats claimed that if a separate merchant code had been available at the time of the Aurora movie theater mass shooting or the Pulse nightclub shooting, the “uncharacteristically large sums” in credit card purchases at gun stores would have been flagged and reported to law enforcement.

The International Organization for Standardization approved a separate merchant code for gun retailers in 2022.

Credit card companies insist that the code would not reveal details of the individual items purchased. Instead, the code would simply detail where the weapons were purchased.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren urged for the nationwide implementation of the new merchant code, calling the move in California just a start.

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