Morrisey: West Virginia successful in urging VIsa, Mastercard to pause on gun-tracking plan

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Mar. 9—CHARLESTON — West Virginia Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey declared victory Thursday after Mastercard and Visa announced they were pausing on a controversial plan to apply a new merchant code to firearm purchases.

West Virginia was part of a 24-state coalition, led by Montana and Tennessee, that urged the credit cards companies to abandon their plan to apply a new merchant code to distinguish firearms purchases from other general merchandise sales.

"This is a huge victory for the Second Amendment and privacy rights of law abiding gun owners here in West Virginia and across the country," Morrisey said in a prepared statement Thursday. "I am glad that Mastercard and Visa listened to our serious concerns with the new merchant code and will act accordingly."

Morrisey said several states, including the Republican-controlled West Virginia Legislature, are considering new laws as a result of the gun shops merchant code controversy.

Morrisey sent letters on Sept. 15 of last year to Visa, Mastercard and American Express, urging the companies to reconsider their decision to apply a new merchant code to distinguish firearms purchases from other general merchandise sales.

After those letters were sent out, Morrisey said he also had a personal discussion with Mastercard officials.

Morrisey said the controversial plan "has nothing to do with public safety and was done to appease radical gun control groups and others who are anti-Second Amendment after years of pressure."

The Associated Press reported Thursday that bills are pending in several state legislatures that would ban the tracking of purchases at gun shops, which would have made it even more difficult for Visa and Mastercard to implement the categorization.

"Tracking legal gun sales from law-abiding merchants and consumers is nothing but an infringement on our constitutional right to keep and bear arms," Morrisey said. "I want to thank my fellow attorneys general who worked with me on this effort."

In a statement to the Associated Press, Visa indicated that the legal pushback was partially the reason for the pause on the merchant code implementation.

"There is now significant confusion and legal uncertainty in the payments ecosystem, and the state actions disrupt the intent of global standards," the company said.

When the gun purchase tracking plan was announced, conservatives in red states cried foul, arguing the new merchant code was an attempt to monitor and track gun purchases and an infringement upon their Second Amendment right to keep and bear firearms.

— Contact Charles Owens at

— Contact Charles Owens at Follow him @BDTOwens