(The Center Square) – The president and CEO of the New York-based bank that pushed for a specific credit card code for gun retailers has claimed victory in the wake of the International Organization for Standardization’s approval of that request last week.
“We all have to do our part to stop gun violence,” Amalgamated Bank’s Priscilla Sims Brown said in a statement from Guns Down America.
Critics say she and the ISO have done little.
“The ISO’s decision to create a firearm-specific code is nothing more than a capitulation to anti-gun politicians and activists bent on eroding the rights of law-abiding Americans one transaction at a time,” Lars Dalseide, spokesman for the National Rifle Association, told The Center Square. “This is not about tracking or prevention or any virtuous motivation – it’s about creating a national registry of gun owners.”
On its website, Amalgamated bills itself as “America’s Socially Responsible Bank.” Gun safety and anti-violence is among 10 social causes the bank pursues, along with pro-labor, pro-choice, and climate issues as well as immigrant, minority and LGBTQ+ rights.
As part of its gun safety crusade, Amalgamated says it does not offer loans to “gun, nuclear weapon or ammunition manufacturers or distributors.” It also offers investment funds that exclude those companies.
Brown said in her statement that the merchant category code will allow Amalgamated to “report suspicious activity and illegal gun sales” to law enforcement while not interfering with lawful purchases.
“This action answers the call of millions of Americans who want safety from gun violence, and we are proud to lead a broad coalition of advocates, shareholders, and elected officials to achieve this historic outcome,” Brown said.
Amalgamated got support from New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James, both Democrats, who said establishing the MCC would help prevent mass shootings.
James, in a letter co-signed by California Attorney General Rob Bonta to executives of American Express, Mastercard and Visa, said the perpetrator of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando that killed 49 people and injured 53 used six credit cards in spending $20,000 to buy the guns and ammunition used in the attack.
Guns Down America said the MCC will apply to all federally-licensed 9,000 gun and ammo retailers.
According to PaymentCloud, a financial services provider to merchants, MCCs were initially established to simplify 1099 reporting to the IRS. However, credit card processors have since started using them to determine fees assessed to merchants and consumer cashback rates.
Risk is another factor card companies consider.
“High-risk merchant category code classifications can also come with other downsides,” PaymentCloud said on its blog. “This can include exclusion from the same eCommerce fraud protections as other businesses. Some MCCs, like those assigned for gambling and money orders, do not receive these protections in transactions where a card is not present.
“Sometimes high-risk businesses are not accepted by a credit card provider at all.”