In July 2021, Amalgamated Bank filed an application to the International Standards Organization (ISO) to create a new merchant category code (MCC) for firearm and ammunition stores. Two individuals on the ISO committee that considers new MCCs received this application and confirmed to the bank that they had received the proper paperwork, but flat out denied the application.
One of these individuals worked for Visa, and the other worked for Mastercard; these two are industry representatives who sit on the ISO committee for MCC considerations. These employees allegedly worked to kill the application before it even got a chance to go through. If this is true, these two random individuals have done more for the 2nd Amendment than the NRA has done in the past ten years.
The initial denial of the application came with a response from one individual representing the interests of Visa. “Although I can’t specify the actual voters or individual names, there is representation from all the major cards [sic] brands globally (MC, Visa, Amex, JCB, Discover, etc.),” read the Visa employee email to Amalgamated Bank.
Amalgamated appealed the decision and wanted more input on why they were being denied. The ISO committee shut down the application again, and this time a committee member representing the interests of American Express gave the details to the bank. “Specific MCC [codes] in narrow retails [sic] areas are challenging,” this employee wrote. “Managing long lists of narrowly defined MCCs can become burdensome if there isn’t a compelling reason for the long list,” he continued.
The ISO would also explain in its second denial that this new MCC would impose an unfair “burden” on small retailers. The ISO also pointed out that this new category of transactions would be unable to capture gun sales made at sporting goods stores.
This is an essential story, the implication of having firearms and ammo as an MCC is that these transactions at gun stores and firearm retailers would be tracked internationally. This is entirely intentional and not a happy accident from the bank that submitted this application, Amalgamated Bank.
If the ISO were to collect data on gun store transactions, the bank could run that data set through various algorithms and software to detect “evidence of other suspicious activity.” If you are unaware, banks already monitor certain transactions to identify crimes like fraud and human trafficking.
Priscilla Sims Brown, the CEO of Amalgamated Bank, said in an interview with CBS News, “We could identify and detect where there may be gun sales that are intended for black markets, where we see patterns of gun purchases being made in multiple gun shops.” Sims Brown added, “We could see the patterns of behavior that would indicate to us that there is something not right here.”
Now all this wistfully thinking about identifying straw purchasers is interesting, but let’s keep our thinking realistic for a moment. If there were a data set like this, one that tracked purchases at firearm retailers, it would be used as a weapon against gun owners. The federal government and these international organizations have shown time and time again that they really can not and should not be trusted with information like this.
For those unfamiliar with the way these MCCs work, these codes do not get assigned to specific items as they are retailer specific. This is why they are called merchant category codes. If you go to the range every other week and burn through a lot of ammunition, or you are just stocking up with another box every payday, you will be flagged in a system like this.
Some might argue that ammunition and other small purchases could be ruled out, and maybe in some cases, that is true. But gun stores also sell safes, bulk ammo, and high-end pocket knives. Some of those things will cost you as much as a new gun, and some will also cost significantly more than some lower-end firearms.
Some Hi-Point handguns will run you under $200, and some second-hand .22lr rifles will run well below that. It should also be noted that many who do not believe you should own any firearms probably consider 2-3 firearm purchases a year to be extreme.
In truth, how you spend your money is no one’s business. If you go to the liquor store weekly, are you secretly buying alcohol for minors? Probably not (the wine there is always on sale in my area).
Having new tracking codes is a solid step for gun grabbers to get a registry started, and it won’t matter if you have already bought all the guns you want and are just buying ammo. But, as we explained, these MCCs do not distinguish what products are purchased at these stores.
The ISO shutting down these requests from Amalgamated Bank is a massive boon for the 2nd Amendment. By shutting down this early, these people have done far more for gun owners than the NRA has in many years.
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