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57 Million+ Users Impacted as Financial Company Becomes First to Track Gun Purchases

Anyone using a Discover card to make a purchase in a gun store will have that purchase tracked, beginning in April. “We remain focused on continuing to protect and support lawful purchases on our network while protecting the privacy of cardholders,” Discover said in a statement, according to Reuters. Last year, the International Organization for Standardization, an international body, announced that it was creating a new merchant category code for gun shop sales. Such stores had formerly been classified as dealers in “general merchandise,” according to Fox Business. As noted by CNBC, the code will show where a purchase was made and the amount, but not what was bought. As noted by the website UpgradedPoints, there are 57 million Discover credit cards in existence. Visa, Mastercard and American Express have said they will abide by the new rule. “Following ISO’s decision to establish a new merchant category code, Visa will proceed with next steps, while ensuring we protect all legal commerce on the Visa network in accordance with our long-standing rules,” Visa said in a statement last year, according to CNBC. “This action answers the call of millions of Americans who want safety from gun violence,” Amalgamated Chief Executive Priscilla Sims Brown said, according to Reuters. The concept of the code, according to its proponents, is that an individual racking up one or several large purchases at a gun store could be someone who is planning some type of suspicious activity. Part of the argument against using the code as a harbinger of a mass shooting being planned is that not all expensive purchases at a gun store are weapons. Fox Business, for example, noted that an individual buying a gun safe could spend a significant amount of money trying to be a responsible owner. Former Visa CEO Al Kelly spoke to Time about the new process in January, saying it might mean less than what its supporters think, while noting that it will use the new code. “Guns are allowed in the United States and we would fully expect that anybody who wants to buy a gun should be able to buy that gun provided all the other checks are done. On top of that, we’re telling them that we don’t collect [that level of data] for consumers,” he said. “So if [Visa’s Chief Communications Officer] K.C. Kavanagh goes into a gun store and buys three thermoses and a tent, and you go in and buy a rifle and five rounds of ammunition, all I know is you both went to the same gun store. I know what gun store, I know when you went, and I know how much money you spent. But I don’t know what you bought,” he said. Florida legislators are pushing back, according to the Orlando Weekly. Credit-card companies could face fines up to $10,000 per violation for tracking firearm and ammunition sales in Florida, under a measure approved Tuesday by a Senate committee. Last month, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee voted 7-3 to support SB 214 that would fine credit card companies up to $10,000 per violation for using the new code. “In Florida, we take it very seriously to protect consumers’ rights, gun rights and their right to privacy, and I believe that this MCC (merchant category code) would lead to the creation of a registry in essence, potentially having a chilling effect on constitutional rights,” said Republican state Sen. Danny Burgess, the bill’s sponsor. “We’re basically putting teeth behind current law in Florida, which prevents government and private registries,” he said. A similar bill had been proposed in Mississippi. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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