Unconscionable: Republican Attorneys General Seek To Protect Mass Shooters And Gun Traffickers

September 20, 2022

Visa, Mastercard and American Express Have All Agreed to Follow New Rules to Crack Down on Illegal Gun-Related Activity Involving Credit Cards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Guns Down America released the following statement after Republican Attorneys General sent a letter asking credit card companies to reverse a new decision taking bolder steps to ensure bad actors are not exploiting our nation’s financial system to carry out mass shootings and illicitly traffic firearms.

“Once again, certain Republican elected officials are protecting a status quo that allows mass shooters and gun traffickers to obtain the firepower they need to carry out mass tragedies, placing the lives of their constituents and even their very own families at risk,” said Igor Volsky, Founder and Executive Director of Guns Down America. “By seeking to prevent the financial industry from identifying and flagging the purchasing patterns associated with mass shooters and gun traffickers, these pro-crime attorneys general are undermining the ability of law enforcement to stop illegal firearms-related activity.”

CNBC previously reported, “The shooter who killed 59 people at a Las Vegas music festival in 2017, for example, charged over $90,000 on credit cards prior to the shooting. The New York Times reported that the shooter had opened six new credit card accounts over the months prior, and twelve days before the shooting, began an over $26,000 firearm and ammunition buying spree. Before that, his average spending was only a mere $1,500 a month. If these gun purchases had been tagged with a [a merchant category code], Brown said, the credit card companies would have been notified of this alarming pattern.”

Earlier this month a committee at the International Standards Organization (ISO), paves the way 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 stand-alone 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.

The decision came after a growing push from law enforcement and public officials asking the credit card companies to do better. A letter led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and signed by dozens of members of Congress urged the companies to take action. New York Mayor Eric Adams led a press conference demanding the companies take action. The New York and California attorneys general have also demanded the companies take action.

Guns Down America and coalition members also sent letters to the credit card companies asking that they support a merchant category code. View the letters here: