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States Move to Protect Gun Owners’ Credit Card Data Privacy

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In response to the International Organization for Standardization approving a Merchant Category Code (MCC) for firearms retailers a little over a year ago, pro-gun lawmakers in three states are currently pushing forward legislation to protect the credit card data privacy of gun owners.

MCCs are used by payment processors (like Visa and Mastercard) and other financial services companies to categorize transactions. Prior to the creation of the specific code for guns, firearms retailers fell under the MCC for sporting goods stores or miscellaneous retail.

“For practical purposes, collecting firearms retailer financial transaction data amounts to surveillance and registration of law-abiding gun owners,” NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action stated in a recent news bulletin. “Those promoting this scheme are in favor of firearm and gun owner registrations.”

In Georgia, House Bill 1018, authored by Republican state Rep. Jason Ridley, prohibits the use of firearm/ammunition specific merchant category codes by payment processors.

The bill specifically states: “It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any financial institution to require the usage of a firearms code in a way that distinguishes a firearms retailer that is physically located in this state from general merchandise retailers or sporting goods retailers.” It further states: “It shall be unlawful for any financial institution to discriminate against a firearms retailer by declining a lawful payment card transaction based solely on the assignment or non-assignment of a firearms code; provided, however, that a financial institution may decline or otherwise refuse to process a payment card transaction on the basis of a firearms code if such action is requested by the customer or is the result of fraud prevention procedures or merchant category exclusions offered by the financial institution for the purpose of expenditure control or corporate payment card control.”

Similar legislation is currently also under consideration in two other states—Kentucky and Wisconsin.

In Kentucky, Republican Reps. Derek Lewis and Michael Meredith have introduced House Bill 357. The bill is very similar to the Georgia measure, and also includes language for prosecution: “The Attorney General shall pursue, in a court of competent jurisdiction, an injunction against any person, public or private, that fails to comply with…this section.”

In Wisconsin, both the State Assembly and Senate have already passed Senate Bill 466. The measure is now headed to Gov. Tony Evers for consideration.

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