Visa, Mastercard, AmEx to categorize gun store sales separately

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

Visa said it would apply the International Organization for Standardization’s new trade code to gun store sales. The new IOS code was announced on Friday. Previously, the sale of gun shops was labeled as ‘general merchandise’.

“Following ISO’s decision to establish a new merchant category code, Visa will proceed with the next steps while ensuring we protect all legal trade on the Visa network in accordance with our long-standing rules” Visa said in a statement.

Visa’s move represents a major win for gun control advocates, who claim a separate category for gun store sales will help detect suspicious volumes of firearms sales that could potentially lead to mass shootings.


Various Visa credit cards

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

But gun rights advocates and gun lobbyists have said that categorizing gun store sales would be unfair to the industry, since most gun sales don’t 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 opting to label gun store sales, pressure will now likely be put on banks as card issuers to decide whether to allow purchases categorized as gun store sales on their issued cards.

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

Two of the largest public pension funds in the US, based in California and New York, have pressured the country’s largest credit card companies to introduce separate sales codes for weapons sales.

Seller category codes are not exclusive to gun store sales, however, as the codes now exist for nearly every type of purchase, including those at grocery stores, clothing stores, coffee shops, and other retailers.


arms sale

Smith and Wesson pistols on display during the NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits 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 policy for gun and ammunition stores,” said Democratic Mayor of New York, Eric Eric. said Adams.

Gun control proponents argue that the trade code for independent gun and ammunition stores could curb gun violence. A week before the 2016 Pulse Nightclub mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, the gunman purchased more than $26,000 worth of guns and ammunition using credit cards.

Gun rights advocates dispute, however, that tracking gun store sales would target legal gun purchases, as trade codes indicate only the type of merchant where the credit or debit card is used, not the specific items. For example, purchasing a gun safe can be viewed as a major purchase at a gun store as the item can be purchased for thousands of dollars. But a gun safe is a product that is considered part of responsible gun ownership.

gun shop sign in Arizona

Signage for the Firearms Unknown Guns & Ammo gun store, in Yuma, Arizona on June 2, 2022. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images) (Getty images)


“The [industry’s] The decision to draft a firearms-specific code is nothing more than a capitulation to anti-gun politicians and activists bent on eroding the rights of law-abiding Americans transaction by transaction,” said National Rifle spokesman Lars Dalseide association.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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