Gun rights advocates said tracking gun store sales would target legal gun purchases
Visa, Mastercard, AmEx to categorize gun store sales separately
Payment processor Visa announced on Saturday its plans to separately categorize gun shop sales, joining Mastercard and American Express, which have already said they would categorize purchases at firearm stores.
Visa said it would apply the International Organization for Standardization’s new merchant code to gun shop sales.
The new IOS code was announced on Friday. Previously, gun store sales were labeled as "general merchandise."
"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.
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 quantities of firearm sales that could potentially lead to a mass shooting
But gun rights advocates and gun lobbyists have said categorizing gun shop sales would be unfair to the industry given that most firearm sales do not result in mass shootings.
Visa, which acts as a middleman between merchants and banks, is the largest payment network. And with three major payment processors all electing to label gun store sales, there will now likely be pressure placed on banks as card issuers to decide if they will permit purchases categorized as gun shop sales on their issued cards.
New York City officials and pension funds had pushed the ISO and banks to adopt the new code on gun shop sales.
Two of the largest public pension funds in the U.S., which are located in California and New York, have put pressure on the country’s largest credit card companies to adopt separate sales codes for gun sales.
Gun control advocates claim that the merchant code for standalone gun and ammunition retailers could curb gun violence.
However, gun rights advocates contest that tracking gun store sales would target legal gun purchases because merchant codes only label the type of merchant where the credit or debit card is used, not the specific items.