May 15th, 2023

Florida Bans Merchant Codes Used to Track Gun Store Customers

mcc merchant category code gun store sales

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed Florida SB 214, a law that bars credit card companies from implementing a special Merchant Category Code (MCC) for credit card purchases at firearm retailers. This new Florida law will esure that the privacy of customers at firearm retailers remains protected and is not collected to be used in an illegal backdoor firearm registry.

“Governor DeSantis is standing up against a ‘woke’ initiative … to use lawful private transactions as a means to usher in gun control,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “No law-abiding American should be subjected to having their name and financial data being added to a government-accessible watchlist simply for exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Governor DeSantis is ensuring that Floridians won’t be held captive by the radical ‘woke’ antigun agenda that seeks to weaponize credit cards in gun owners’ wallets against them.”

Florida’s SB 214 will ensure that the names of law-abiding firearm owners are not illegally recorded on a list or registry. The law also prohibits a payment settlement entity, merchant acquiring entity or third party settlement organization from assigning a MCC classifying a merchant as a seller of firearms or ammunition. And SB 214 authorizes the Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services to investigate alleged violations of the law.

BACKGROUND: In late 2022, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) announced it would create a unique MCC, at the behest of Amalgamated Bank, which has been described as the Left’s Private Banker, that would allow credit card companies to monitor transactions at firearm retailers. Credit card companies suspended plans to implement the use of unique firearm retailer MCCs after significant opposition by NSSF and several state governments.

Idaho, Mississippi, and West Virginia Have Passed Similar Legislation
Florida joins West Virginia, Mississippi and Idaho in enacting laws to protect firearm purchasers’ privacy when using credit cards at firearm retailers. Legislation similar to Florida’s law is pending in Congress.

Fighting Back — 24 State Attorney Generals Oppose New Code
The Attorney Generals (AGs) of 24 states have sent letters to Credit Card company CEOs requesting elimination of the new Merchant Category Code (MCC) for gun stores being implemented by Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. These AGs of 24 states stated their intent to “marshal the full scope of our lawful authority” to block the use of the new Code to be applied to gun and gun-related sales.

The AGs sent a letter last week to the CEOs of American Express, Mastercard, and Visa. The AGs explained that the Code could be misused and lead to a de facto gun registry: “Creating and tracking this data only matters if your institutions are considering using that information to take further, harmful action—like infringing upon consumer privacy, inhibiting constitutionally protected purchases by selectively restricting the use of your payment systems, or otherwise withholding your financial services from targeted ‘disfavored’ merchants.” READ MORE.

The AGs added that the Code would not be able to distinguish between actual firearms sales vs. hunting/outdoor accessories, leading to problems for consumers: “This categorization would not recognize the difference, for example, between the purchase of a gun safe and a firearm. Nor would it capture firearm purchases made at department stores, resulting in arbitrarily disparate treatment of ‘gun store’ merchants and consumers.”

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