Mastercard, Visa Pausing Work on Tracking Codes

Mastercard, Visa Pausing Work on Tracking Codes

( – Development of a new tracking code that could have covertly built a register of gun purchases has been “paused” just days after credit card issuers announced work had started. When news of the plan became public last year, pro-Second Amendment legislators quickly hit back with new bills. It looks like the threat of legislation has forced the companies to reconsider.

On September 9, 2022, the International Standards Organization announced a new merchant code for gun stores. The code, which anti-gun activists had been calling for, would make it possible to flag anyone who spent money in a gun store. It wouldn’t identify the actual items they bought, but New York-based Amalgamated Bank, a strong supporter of the move, said it would let financial institutions track “suspicious” gun sales.

Second Amendment advocates were less enthusiastic, though. John Harris of the Tennessee Firearms Association warned that it would allow banks or credit card companies to refuse to let gun stores use their services, effectively denying them the ability to take card payments. In response, 24 state Attorneys General called on Visa, Mastercard, and American Express to pull out of the plan, which they said could violate consumer protection laws.

At first, it looked like the card companies weren’t listening; earlier this month, they announced that work on implementing the code had started. However, on March 9, they announced that they’ve “paused” that work. A Mastercard spokesman said that state bills introduced to block the code could cause “inconsistency,” so they’re suspending the project. The credit card processing companies also said the code was likely to have little impact.

Montana AG Austin Knudsen (R) said the companies have come to the “correct conclusion” but added that they shouldn’t be pausing the code, “they should end it definitively.” If they do, it will end a new threat to gun ownership rights.

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