Visa to start categorizing gun shop sales separately
Payment processor Visa Inc. said late Saturday that it plans to start separately categorizing sales at gun shops, a major win for gun control advocates who say it will help better track suspicious surges of gun sales that could be a prelude to a mass shooting.
But the decision by Visa, the world’s largest payment processor, will likely provoke the ire of gun rights advocates and gun lobbyists, who have argued that categorizing gun sales would unfairly flag an industry when most sales do not lead to mass shootings.
Visa said it would adopt the International Organization for Standardization’s new merchant code for gun sales, which was announced on Friday. Until Friday, gun store sales were considered ``general merchandise.’’
Visa’s adoption is significant as the largest payment network, and will likely add pressure for Mastercard and American Express to adopt the code as well.
Visa acts as a middleman between merchants and banks, and it will be up to banks to decide whether they will allow sales at gun stores to happen on their issued cards.
Gun control advocates had gained significant wins on this front in recent weeks. New York City officials and pension funds had pressured the ISO and banks to adopt this code.
Two of the country’s largest public pension funds, in California and New York, have been pressing the country’s largest credit card firms to establish sales codes specifically for firearm-related sales that could flag suspicious purchases or more easily trace how guns and ammo are sold.
Merchant Category Codes now exist for almost every kind of purchase, including those made at supermarkets, clothing stores, coffee shops and many other retailers.