Visa, Mastercard pause decision to track gun shop purchases

Visa and Mastercard have rescinded their plans to begin categorizing gun shop purchases. This is a major victory for Second Amendment advocates and conservative groups.

This decision is also a defeat to gun control groups. It was hoped that the categorizing of credit and debit card purchases could allow authorities to see potential red flags, such as significant ammunition purchases, before a mass shooting could occur.

The gun lobby and conservative politicians reacted strongly to Visa’s announcement that Mastercard would implement a separate merchant code for gun shop purchases. 24 GOP state attorneys general sent a letter to payment networks warning them that they could be sued by Visa and Mastercard if the plan is not implemented.

Additionally, there are bills in various state legislatures that would prohibit the tracking of gun shop purchases. This would make it more difficult for Visa or Mastercard to implement the categorization.

Visa stated in a statement that they had paused implementation partly because of legal resistance.

The company stated that there is “significant confusion and legal uncertainty” in the payments system, and that state actions have disrupted the intent of global standards.

Visa and Mastercard both stated that the gun shop category was due to an outside decision. The International Organization for Standardization (or ISO) is the group that categorizes merchant code. Visa and Mastercard followed their lead. Gun control advocates advocated for the change to ISO and not Visa or Mastercard.

Visa and Mastercard plans would not have kept track of individual gun purchases. Instead, it would have broken down purchases at gun shops as a separate category. However, not all large purchases made at gun shops would have been considered red flags.

A gun safe that costs thousands of dollars would be considered expensive by gun shops. However, it is considered a responsible gun owner tool and not related to mass shootings.

“Visa & Mastercard reached the right conclusion. They shouldn’t ‘pause’ the implementation of this plan, but they should end it permanently,” Austin Knudsen from Montana, who was part of the 24-state GOP group that pressured Visa and Mastercard to drop their standard, said in a statement.