Proponents of stricter gun laws have suffered a setback.
Visa and Mastercard have put on hold their plans to begin cataloging transactions made at gun stores, marking a victory for conservative organizations and Second Amendment activists who feared the practice might mistakenly discriminate against legitimate gun sales.
Visa said in a statement that legal opposition was a factor in the decision to halt the rollout temporarily.
The gun lobby and conservative lawmakers strongly opposed visa and Mastercard’s intentions to create a new merchant category code for firearms sales. In a letter to the payment networks, twenty-four Republican state attorneys general threatened legal action against the companies if they went forward with their plan. In addition, numerous state legislatures are considering legislation prohibiting the recording of firearms transactions. It would have been difficult for Visa and Mastercard to execute the categorization under such circumstances.
Both Visa and Mastercard have said that the choice to classify gun shops as high-risk was made by a third party. Visa and Mastercard only followed the ISO’s (International Organization for Standardization) decision to reclassify merchant codes. ISO was chosen because of pressure from gun control supporters, not from Visa or Mastercard.
The method proposed by Visa and Mastercard would not have monitored individual gun purchases. Buying firearms would have been separated out as its own category.
Yet not all big purchases at a gun store would have raised suspicion. A gun safe, which may cost several thousand dollars, is a responsible instrument of gun ownership and has nothing to do with the possibility of mass shootings, yet it would have been deemed a significant buy at a gun store.
Attorney General of Montana Austin Knudsen, who headed the 24-state Republican coalition that lobbied Visa and Mastercard, said in a statement that, “Both Visa and Mastercard have reached the proper decision. But they shouldn’t only “delay” the plan’s execution; rather, they should scrap it altogether.”