Discover Card to Enable Tracking Gun Purchases

February 20, 2023

Credit card provider Discover Financial Services plans to allow its network to track purchases from gun retailers starting in April, according to a Monday report from Reuters.

The announcement follows a concerted effort last year to convince the major credit card companies to create a specific merchant category code, which identifies the type of item purchased with that card, for guns and ammunition, rather than what pops up currently—usually “sporting goods” or “retail.”

In September, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which decides merchant categories, approved launching the specific code for gun retailers. 

The credit card companies had been reluctant to adopt a dedicated merchant code for gun purchases, saying it’s not their responsibility to create systems to track gun purchases, but both federal and local officials pressed for the clarifying code.

On September 1, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), along with six other members of Congress, had written to the major credit card companies, urging them to create the new merchant code for gun and ammunition sales that would “make it easier for financial institutions to monitor certain types of suspicious activities including straw purchases and unlawful bulk purchases that could be used in the commission of domestic terrorist acts or gun trafficking schemes.”

Further, New York City’s Mayor and its Comptroller had joined with the trustees of New York City’s Employee Retirement System, its Teacher’s Retirement System, Board of Education Retirement System and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System to press for the gun-specific merchant code. 

The new codes adopted by Discover will not show specific items purchased. However, some Republican politicians have spoken out against the move, arguing it could violate the privacy of citizens lawfully buying guns.

In adopting the new code Discover is following the lead of Visa, Mastercard and American Express, which last fall said they would work to implement the new gun-specific merchant codes, although all three declined to tell Reuters their schedules for adopting the code. 

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.


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