Wyoming Lawmakers Look to Halt Credit Card Tracking of Gun Sales As California Efforts Move Forward

Earlier this month, the major credit card companies announced plans to make a merchant code available for firearm and ammunition retailers to comply with a new California law that will allow banks to potentially track suspicious gun purchases and report them to law enforcement.

Retailers in the Golden State could soon be assigned merchant codes based on the types of goods they sell, and the codes could allow banks and credit card companies to detect purchase patterns – including those that are firearm or ammunition-related.

Currently, gun shops and other firearm retailers are lumped in with other types of retailers, such as sporting goods stores.

Renewed Tracking Efforts

In the fall of 2022, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved a Merchant Category Code (MCC) for firearm retailers. Mastercard, Visa, and American Express then agreed to implement the standalone code for firearm sellers, only to halt the efforts after receiving significant pushback from Second Amendment supporters who voiced concerns that such tracking of firearm purchases would infringe on the rights of legal gun owners.

It now seems that this could be implemented on a state-by-state basis, and California is among the states taking the lead.

The Cowboy State Capitol
Wyoming won’t follow California’s lead in allowing the tracking of firearms sales by credit card companies. (Image: State of Wyoming)

However, lawmakers in Wyoming have introduced a bill that would stop any similar retail codes from being employed in the Cowboy State. Senate File 105 was passed in the Wyoming State Senate earlier this week with a vote of 31-0 and will next proceed to the State House.

The bill would prohibit the use of merchant category codes to identify firearms, firearm accessories, and ammunition purchases.

“In September 2022, the world’s three (3) largest payment card networks publicly announced they would assign a unique merchant category code to firearms retailers accepting payment cards for purchases, after twenty-eight (28) members of Congress sent a public letter to networks, pressuring them to adopt the new code,” the bill’s text reads in part.

“This potential for cooperative surveillance and tracking of lawful firearms and ammunition purchases will have a significant chilling effect on citizens wishing to exercise their federal and state constitutional rights to keep and bear arms in this state,” the text continued. “While federal law requires some financial institutions to report transactions that are highly indicative of money laundering or other unlawful activities, there is no federal or state law authorizing financial institutions to surveil and track lawful activities by customers in cooperation with law enforcement. The federal Right to Financial Privacy Act prohibits financial institutions from disclosing a customer’s financial records except in limited circumstances.”

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based freelance writer who regularly covers firearms related topics and military history. As a reporter, his work has appeared in dozens of magazines, newspapers, and websites. Among those are The National Interest, Forbes, and many others. He has collected military small arms and military helmets most of his life, and just recently navigated his first NFA transfer to buy his first machine gun. He is co-author of the book A Gallery of Military Headdress, which was published in February 2019. It is his third book on the topic of military hats and helmets.

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