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Tipsheet

Major Financial Institution to Begin Tracking Purchases at Gun Retailers Next Month

AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File

Beginning next month, Discover Financial Services will become the first financial institution to track purchases at gun retailers, prompting warnings from GOP lawmakers and gun rights proponents.

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The decision comes after the International Organization for Standardization approved of a Merchant Category Code for gun retailers back in September.

While the move is being billed as a way to assist law enforcement in probing gun-related crimes, the code does not specify what, exactly, was purchased at the retailer. 

The “scenarios” include “detection scenarios” in which a purchase prompts a bank to file a Suspicious Activity Report to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). There have been no guidelines on what any of that means or what purchases would be flagged. That’s because the MCC won’t identify what is in the customer’s shopping basket. The customer could have passed an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) verification to lawfully buy a firearm and ammunition. Or the purchase could be for camping supplies, waders, decoys, blinds and other outdoor gear for a hunting trip. The total cost could be flagged as “suspicious” since it might be an outlier on a customer’s purchase history.

Bloomberg News – owned by gun control advocate Michael Bloomberg – even threw cold water on the idea, saying the code wouldn’t work. “The payment network and its banking partners would have no idea if a gun-store customer is purchasing…a rifle or safety equipment.” (NSSF)

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While some Republican lawmakers are sounding the alarm, at the state level efforts are already underway to protect gun owners, according to NSSF. 

In Mississippi, a bill is pending to preclude the use of the gun store MCC. House Bill 1110 was already approved overwhelmingly by the Mississippi House of Representatives, 87-26. The bill is expected to move swiftly through the state Senate.

In Florida, the Republican-controlled Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved Senate Bill 214 that would target yet-to-be-enacted plans by some credit-card companies to create a gun store MCC. That bill would even fine credit card companies up to $10,000 per violation.

In West Virginia, Republican state Treasurer Riley Moore spoke of efforts to block the code as well, praising the House of Delegates for approving legislation that would ban any credit card company that tracks gun and ammunition purchases from bidding on state contracts. (NSSF)

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