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Democrat Senators call on payments companies to track gun sales

Visa, Mastercard, and Discover paused efforts over privacy complaints.

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Democrat senators, led by Sens. and Bob Mendez, are calling on the departments of the Treasury and Justice to take action after credit card companies’ refusal to track gun purchases.

Last year, following pressure from gun control activists and progressive lawmakers, Visa announced that it would track gun purchases through a new merchant category code. Mastercard and other credit card companies also said they would track gun and ammo purchases.

Earlier this month, we reported that Discover would start tracking gun and ammo purchases through a new MCC beginning April. The report led to pushback from conservatives, gun rights activists, and privacy supporters.

A few days later, Visa and Mastercard announced that they would back off tracking purchases – at least for a while. Discover also said it was pausing plans to start tracking gun purchases.

In a joint letter, Warren and Mendez asked the Treasury and the DOJ to intervene by providing guidance for card companies to adopt the new MCC to track gun purchases.

We obtained a copy of the letter for you here.

The senators admitted that the pushback from conservatives had resulted in the card companies changing their about the new MCC.

“This effort comes on the heels of recent developments, in which Visa, Mastercard, and American Express have paused the implementation of the new MCC code because some Republican-led states are actively working to block its enactment,” they wrote.

They added: “We urge Treasury and DOJ to quickly publish any policy advisory, enforcement guidance, and other materials needed by financial institutions, retailers, and law enforcement as the new MCC code is implemented for gun and ammunition stores. … We also ask Treasury, with input from the DOJ, to issue guidance to financial institutions regarding circumstances that should prompt financial firms to file a suspicious activity report about transactions they suspect are related to trafficking in firearms, money laundering proceeds from trafficking in firearms, or other criminal activity.”

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