Credit Card Industry Pushes Back Against Gun Store Merchant Code

Written by Orchid

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June 28, 2022

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White text atop red background next to photo of Amalgamated Bank logo

According to documents recently obtained by CBS News, employees from major domestic and international credit card companies, including Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover and JCB Co., pushed back against an application to create a new merchant category code for firearm and ammunition sellers.

The application was submitted to the International Standards Organization (ISO) in July 2021 by Amalgamated Bank, a New York-based financial institution with a mission as “America’s most socially responsible bank” to “advance positive social change.”

Not Amalgamated’s first attempt to stranglehold the firearms industry, a former executive threatened Ruger in 2018 with withholding its support for the reelection of Sandra Froman as NRA director if the manufacturer did not endorse gun control following the shooting in Parkland, Florida. At the time, the bank had held 7,500 shares of the company. Today, Amalgamated customers include the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Governors Association, as well as campaigns for President Joe Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Advising an internal ISO committee who reviews applications for new merchant category codes, the bank’s application was sent to at least two employees of Visa and Mastercard who acknowledged its receipt. Three months later, the application was denied.

Seeking further input from card company employees, Amalgamated appealed the decision but was again denied by the ISO in February, who stated a new code for gun and ammunition sellers would fail to capture “the sales at sporting goods stores” and place a “burden” on small retailers.

“Specific MCCs in narrow retail areas are challenging,” wrote an employee from American Express. “Managing long lists of narrowly defined MCCs can become burdensome if there isn’t a compelling reason for the long list.”

While the ISO committee includes representation from all major global card brands, employees from those companies were only serving in a “personal capacity” and “do not represent the views of their employer.” When asked by CBS News, neither Visa, Mastercard, nor American Express would say if their companies supported creating a merchant code for firearms sellers.

Currently, MCC 5941 is used for ‘Sporting Good Stores,’ which includes merchants who sell sporting goods, sports equipment, camping supplies, and related parts and accessories ­– as well as gun stores.

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