Visa, Mastercard, AmEx to categorize gun store sales separately

Payment processor Visa announced on Saturday its plans to separately categorize gun store sales, joining Mastercard and American Express, which have already said they will categorize gun store purchases.

Visa said it would apply the new International Organization for Standardization commercial code to arms sales. The new iOS code was announced on Friday. Previously, gun store sales were labeled as “general merchandise.”

“Following ISO’s decision to create a new merchant category code, Visa will continue with the next steps, ensuring that we protect all legitimate commerce on the Visa network in accordance with our legacy rules,” Visa said. in a statement.

The move by Visa signals a major victory for gun control advocates, who argue that a separate category for gun store sales will help track suspicious amounts of firearms sales that could potentially lead to mass shooting.


Payment processor Visa announced on Saturday its plans to categorize separate sales at gun stores, joining Mastercard and American Express, which have already said they will categorize firearms sales. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/Getty Images)

But gun rights advocates and gun lobbyists have said that categorizing store gun sales would be unfair to the industry given that most firearm sales do not result in mass shootings.

Visa, which acts as an intermediary between merchants and banks, is the largest payment network. And with three major payment processors all choosing to label gun store sales, there is now likely to be pressure on card-issuing banks to decide whether to allow purchases categorized as gun store sales on the cards their released.

New York City officials and pension funds had pushed the ISO and banks to adopt the new gun sales code.

Two of the largest public pension funds in the US, located in California and New York, have pressured the nation’s largest credit card companies to adopt special sales codes for gun sales.

Merchant category codes are not exclusive to gun store sales, however, as codes now exist for almost any type of purchase, including those at supermarkets, clothing stores, coffee shops, and other retailers.


Sale of arms

Smith and Wesson handguns are displayed during the NRA Annual Meeting and Exposition at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center on May 5, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images / Getty Images)

“When you buy a plane ticket or pay for your groceries, your credit card company has a special code for those retailers. It’s just common sense that we have the same policies in place for gun and ammo stores, ” New York’s Democratic mayor Eric Adams said.

Gun control advocates claim that the trade code for independent gun and ammunition sellers could curb gun violence. A week before the 2016 Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, the gunman bought more than $26,000 worth of guns and ammunition using credit cards.

However, gun rights advocates counter that tracking gun store sales would target legal gun purchases because merchant codes only tag the type of merchant where the credit or debit card is used, not the specific items. Buying a gun safe, for example, can be seen as a large purchase at a gun store since the item can be purchased for thousands of dollars. But a gun safe is a product that is considered part of responsible gun ownership.

Arizona gun shop sign

The sign for Firearms Unknown Guns & Ammo, in Yuma, Arizona on June 2, 2022. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images) (Getty Images)


“To [industry’s] The decision to create a specific firearms code is nothing more than a capitulation to anti-gun politicians and activists bent on eroding the rights of law-abiding Americans one transaction at a time,” said the Association’s spokesperson. Rifle National, Lars Dalseide.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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