GOP senators warn credit card companies Congress may intercede over decision to track gun sales, call for reversal

A group of 12 senators led by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) are demanding that Visa, Mastercard and American Express suspend their plans to categorize and track gun store purchases made by their credit card holders.

These companies recently announced they would adopt the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) new code for gun store purchases where previously those transactions were listed as “general merchandise.”

“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,” Visa said in a statement last week.

The Republican leaders argue in a letter exclusively obtained by Fox Business that such a categorization for gun purchases is a slippery slope that punishes law-abiding citizens who own firearms (which, unlike the Left’s erroneous assertions regarding abortion and universal healthcare, is a constitutional right.)

“This decision, which is already being hailed by radical anti-gun activists, is the first step towards backdoor gun control on law abiding Americans,” the senators wrote to the CEOs. “Any change that seeks to impact a United States citizen’s ability to legally purchase a firearm belongs with Congress, not payment networks, international standard setting organizations, or the financial institutions that some of you serve.”

Merchant codes are used for many types of retail establishments, including grocery stores, coffee shops and department stores, but they only denote where a purchase was made, not what specific items were purchased.

However, a gun safe which costs thousands of dollars, for example, could potentially raise eyebrows and cause any curious investigators to speculate the purchase was for large quantities of ammunition and guns. Taking that into consideration, the lawmakers say the supposed benefit of adding a merchant code doesn’t achieve what gun control advocates think it will achieve.

“Due to the nature of the information collected from merchants when processing a transaction, you will have no ability to know what is being purchased; as such, the purported benefits for detecting suspicious purchases falls flat on face value,” the Republicans wrote. “Given that, it is clear that these changes are being pushed for much more nefarious reasons, and is likely only step one with calls for declining to process gun sales altogether coming in the near future.”

They also argue the ISO is a voluntary organization which cannot dictate policy for any business anywhere.

“To be perfectly clear, your hand is not being forced,” the lawmakers wrote. “Creating a new merchant code for gun transactions is a choice being made by each of your companies. You are choosing the side of gun control advocates over the privacy and Second Amendment rights of millions of law abiding Americans.”

“You are choosing to insert yourselves into this political debate – which should only be fought at the ballot box and in Congress – and in doing so you are making clear that you are more than unbiased network operators seeking to maximize value for your customers and shareholders. You have become antigun activists yourselves, wittingly or not,” the letter continued.

Much of the pressure placed on the aforementioned credit card companies has come from two of the largest pension funds in the U.S., which operate out of California and New York. As they are middlemen between merchants and banks, the card issuers would likely then apply pressure on banks to act similarly and single out gun store purchases as well, so one must only follow the money.

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