Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Banks Increasingly Back Political Scheme To Track Gun Purchases by Credit Card

Politicians lean on the financial industry to target activities they don’t like.


The first credit card processor to announce plans to track purchases at gun shops is Discover Financial Services. The company hints that its competitors, specifically Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, are on the same schedule to implement a controversial gun-specific merchant category code announced last year. Given that the ideologically charged bank behind the new code has big plans for targeting gun purchases you can expect more fireworks to follow.

“Discover Financial Services, a provider of credit cards, told Reuters it will allow its network to track purchases at gun retailers come April, making it the first among its peers to publicly give a date for moving ahead with the initiative, which is aimed at helping authorities probe gun-related crimes,” the news service reports. “Discover’s announcement came after the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which decides on the classification of merchant categories used by payment cards, approved in September the launch of a dedicated code for gun retailers.”

Merchant category codes (MCCs) are an IRS-developed scheme for tracking transactions. Behind the push for the gun-specific merchant category code is Amalgamated Bank, which boasts that it “supports sustainable organizations, progressive causes, and social justice.” It’s basically a political operation that uses its presence in the financial industry to advance political goals, and it joined with Democratic politicians to urge adoption of the new MCC. Why? Because at a time when everything is politicized, an ability to monitor buying and selling is enormously important to those who want to restrict or control whole areas of life.


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