Two dozen Republican state attorneys general warned the CEOs of three major credit card companies on Tuesday that the recent creation of a merchant category code for processing purchases at gun stores is a potential breach of protection. consumer and antitrust laws.
The letter was sent a week after Visa announced earlier this month that it would join American Express and Mastercard and begin categorizing sales at gun stores, to help track suspicious sales that could lead to mass shootings.
Visa said it would adopt the International Organization for Standardization’s new merchant code for sales in gun stores, which it had previously categorized as “general merchandise”.
In the letter to the CEOs of American Express, Mastercard and Visa, the attorneys general say that the surveillance and tracking of gun purchases creates a “gun buyer’s list” and creates a clear risk that Law-abiding consumer information is obtained and misused by those who oppose Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights.
“The new code will not protect public safety. The categorization of the constitutional right to purchase firearms unfairly targets law-abiding traders and consumers. First, efforts to track and monitor sales at gun stores would only result in vague and misleading information,” the attorneys general wrote.
“This categorization would not recognize the difference, for example, between buying a safe and buying a gun. It also would not capture gun purchases made at department stores, resulting in arbitrarily disparate treatment of merchants and ‘gun store’ consumers,” they added.
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State law enforcement chiefs have said that “deliberate” monitoring of such data would likely lead to its misuse, inadvertently or deliberately.
“Creating and tracking this data only matters if your institutions plan to use this information to take other harmful actions – like invading consumer privacy, inhibiting constitutionally protected purchases by selectively restricting the use of your payment systems, or otherwise withholding your financial services from targeted “disadvantaged” merchants,” they wrote.
“Generating a ‘gun buyers list’ creates the obvious risk that law-abiding consumer information will be leaked, discovered, hacked or otherwise obtained and misused by those who oppose that Americans are exercising their Second Amendment rights,” they warned.
Republican attorneys general have singled out gun control advocates as the forces behind the new category of merchant code, which they have warned companies could take them to court.
“Press releases from public officials make it clear that the new merchant code was created and adopted in concert with various state actors, which may further create the potential for civil and criminal liability for conspiracy to deprive Americans of their civil rights,” the coalition wrote the attorneys general.
The AGs have informed credit card company CEOs that they will “mobilize the full extent of their legal authority” to protect their citizens and consumers from “unlawful attempts to infringe on their constitutional rights.”
“Social policy must be debated and determined within our political institutions. Americans are tired of seeing corporate influence used to advance political goals that cannot muster grassroots Democratic support,” they warned.