In a win for gun control advocates, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express plan to start separately categorizing sales at gun stores

TINLEY PARK, ILLINOIS - APRIL 08: A customer purchases a gun at Freddie Bear Sports on April 08, 2021 in Tinley Park, Illinois. President Joe Biden today announced gun control measures which included stricter controls on the purchase of homemade firearms, commonly referred to as Ghost Guns and he made a push for national Red Flag legislation and other measures.
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  • Visa, Mastercard and American Express will separately categorize sales at gun shops.

  • The decision is a win for gun control advocates who say it will help track gun sales.

  • Until Friday, gun store sales were considered general merchandise.

Visa, Mastercard, and American Express will separately categorize purchases at gun shops in a win for gun control advocates who say the decision will help alert law enforcement to potentially illegal firearm sales.

According to The Associated Press, the payment processors announced the change on Saturday, after the International Organization for Standardization, a Geneva-based nonprofit, approved the creation of a merchant code for gun retailers.

Until Friday, gun store sales did not have a unique code and were considered "general merchandise," according to a spokeswoman for the ISO.

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

AmericanExpress said it will work with its third-party processors and partners to implement the new merchant category codes.

"It is important to note that MCC codes are one of many data points that help us understand the industries in which our merchants operate," the company said in a statement.

Reuters reported the ISO was influenced by gun control advocates, including US Senator Elizabeth Warren, who urged the CEOs of Mastercard, American Express, and Visa to make the change.

"Mass shooters have repeatedly financed deadly massacres using credit cards, and bank CEOs need to step up to save lives," Warren said.

In a statement to Insider, Mastercard said: "We understand and appreciate the significant policy imperative in reducing gun violence and see the recent bipartisan action in Congress as a positive step. We believe it is that type of effort that will meaningfully address the tragic gun violence facing the country."

The AP reported gun rights advocates argue that tracking gun sales unfairly targets legal gun purchases.

Lars Dalseide a spokesman for the National Rifle Association told Insider that the ISO's decision to create a firearm specific code is "nothing more than a capitulation to anti-gun politicians and activists bent on eroding the rights of law-abiding Americans one transaction at a time. This is not about tracking or prevention or any virtuous motivation – it's about creating a national registry of gun owners."

Sen. Warren did not respond to Insider's request for comment.

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