Gun Violence Prevention Organizations Applaud Gov Newsom for Signing AB 1587, Bill Requiring Credit Card Companies to Identify Suspicious Patterns of Firearms and Ammunition Purchases
September 26, 2023
SACRAMENTO — Gun violence prevention organizations applauded Gov. Newsom’s decision to sign AB 1587 (Ting) today, a bill that requires credit card companies to use a merchant category code (MCC) for firearms retailers in California to help identify suspicious patterns of firearms and ammunition purchases.
“Today, California has taken a step closer to a future that is safer from gun violence with Gov. Newsom’s decision to sign AB 1587,” said Shannon Grady, interim executive director of Guns Down America. “Assemblymember Ting deserves credit for pushing through this important bill that makes sure that financial institutions and credit card companies can meet their obligation to classify gun stores and use transaction data to protect consumers from gun violence, just like they already do to prevent fraud, money laundering and terrorism. We look forward to more states following California’s lead and making clear that credit card companies have an obligation to take action on gun violence.”
“For years, our coalition has been calling for the use of merchant category codes for gun and ammunition sellers. This is a means of true prevention and intervention that has the potential to thwart attacks before tragedy strikes,” said Kris Brown, president of Brady. “If your credit card company knows you’re using a toll road, dining at a restaurant, or even buying a snowmobile, then they should be aware when you’re accumulating an arsenal of weapons. These codes will identify dangerous patterns that often signify someone is preparing to traffic weapons or launch an attack. This new law will now provide a life-saving tool to help California stop individuals before they can inflict harm, and Brady is thankful to all those who made today’s signing possible.”
“Merchant category codes for firearm and ammunition purchases have the ability to save lives,” said Adam Skaggs, chief counsel and policy director, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “By having a separate category for gun purchases, authorities can be alerted if there are strong signs of illegal gun trafficking, or if atypically large amounts of firearms and ammunition were purchased as they have been preceding prior mass shootings. Using these codes doesn’t infringe anyone’s rights and won’t stop any legal gun purchase. This is a safety measure. We applaud Governor Newsom and Assemblymember Ting for making this life saving law a reality."
The media has reported that the shooter who killed 59 people at a Las Vegas music festival in 2017 charged over $90,000 on credit cards prior to the shooting. The Pulse Nightclub shooter opened six new credit card accounts and spent $26,000 on firearms and ammunition, all the while Googling “why banks stop your purchases.” Before that, his average spending was a mere $1,500 a month.
Guns Down America, Giffords, and Brady were among the groups that led the effort to require credit card companies to adopt an MCC. That work led to a committee at the International Standards Organization (ISO) creating a method for credit card companies to help law enforcement preempt mass shootings and firearm trafficking by identifying suspicious patterns of firearms and ammunition purchases through a new Merchant Category Code (MCC) for the country’s federally licensed gun and ammunition dealers. Some of the nation's worst mass shootings, including Aurora, Colorado; San Bernardino, California; Orlando; and Las Vegas involved electronic payments.
Until this decision, gun retailers were one of the few merchants in the country without an MCC.
The decision came after a growing push from law enforcement and public officials asking the credit card companies to do better. The New York and California attorneys general were among public officials demanding that credit card companies take action.