Visa and Mastercard have decided to pause their plans to categorize purchases made at gun shops. This move is considered a victory for conservative groups and Second Amendment advocates who feared that such categorization could discriminate against legal firearms purchases. However, this decision is seen as a loss for gun control groups who believed that the categorization of credit and debit card purchases could potentially help authorities identify red flags, such as significant ammunition purchases, before a mass shooting occurs.
Visa and Mastercard’s plans to implement a separate merchant category code for gun shop purchases faced significant backlash from the gun lobby and conservative politicians. A group of 24 GOP state attorneys general wrote a letter threatening legal action against the payment networks if they went ahead with their plan.
“There is now significant confusion and legal uncertainty in the payments ecosystem, and the state actions disrupt the intent of global standards,” said Visa.
Several state legislatures also have bills pending that would ban the tracking of purchases at gun shops, making it even more challenging for Visa and Mastercard to implement the categorization.
In a statement, Visa stated that the legal pushback was partly the reason they had paused their implementation. The company also cited the confusion and legal uncertainty in the payments ecosystem and the disruptive actions of the state.
Visa and Mastercard clarified that the decision to categorize purchases made at gun shops was outside their control. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which categorizes merchant codes, made the decision, and Visa and Mastercard were just following the standard. Gun control advocates lobbied for the change to ISO, not to Visa and Mastercard.