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House GOP Elise Stefanik calls for transparency on Visa gun sales

WASHINGTON – New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, along with 100 House GOP colleagues, are demanding more information about credit card companies’ plans to track gun sales with a new code — including whether the companies plan to send gun sales records to the government .

Visa, the world’s largest credit processor, announced on Saturday that it will begin labeling retail gun sales with the new Merchant Category Code – allowing for easier tabulation of such sales and potentially different standards for verification.

Stefanik, the 3rd house Republican, demanded answers in letters Wednesday to Visa CEO Alfred Kelly and his colleagues at Mastercard and American Express, who will also adopt the guns MCC unveiled Friday by the International Organization for Standardization.

The state congresswoman noted that credit card companies and the ISO had resisted the idea in the past because it would burden small businesses and wouldn’t track some gun sales, including at sporting goods retailers.

“It has been widely reported that American Express, Mastercard and Visa did not support this request,” the letter, led by Stefanik, reads. “Specifically, Visa recently stated that they believe it sets a dangerous precedent to ask payment networks to act as a moral authority in deciding what legitimate goods can or cannot be purchased.” We couldn’t agree more.”

Alfred Kelly.
Rep. Elise Stefanik sent a letter to Visa CEO Alfred Kelly and his colleagues at Mastercard and American Express.
Michael Kovac/Getty Images
Elise Stefanik.
“What criteria will Visa use to mark transactions?” Rep. Elise Stefanik’s letter asks.
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Stefanik asked the companies if they support the latest developments and how they will implement the change.

“What criteria will Visa use to mark transactions?” asks the letter to the company. “How will Visa inform consumers about the implications of this implementation?”

The letter also asks if “Visa [will] Notify customers when their legitimate transactions have been flagged and sent to law enforcement.”

Visa cards.
Stefanik and the GOP members want to know if “Visa [will] Notify customers when their legitimate transactions have been flagged and sent to law enforcement.”
Jenny Kane/AP

The letter adds, “Are you aware that federal law contains several restrictions on establishing a national firearms registry and that your company’s move could be viewed as a malicious attempt to circumvent those restrictions?”

The new gun sales code was sought by New York’s Amalgamated Bank and its passage was hailed as a momentous victory by gun control advocates.

“Everyone has a responsibility to do whatever it takes to stop gun violence. As a bank, it is our right and our responsibility to report the use of the financial system to spur black market arms sales and mass shooting-related sales,” Priscila Sims Brown, CEO of Amalgamated Bank, said this month.

Gun shop owner.
Visa will begin labeling retail gun sales with the new Merchant Category Code.
Port Daley/AP

“Issuing a merchant category code for gun sellers will enable us to do this and we are confident that our pending application will be successful if Visa, Mastercard and American Express follow their process for creating new codes.”

Democratic New York Attorney General Letitia James tweeted last week: “These credit card companies must now take the next step and flag suspicious transactions in arms and ammunition sales, just as they do in fraud and money laundering.”

Republicans are currently in the minority in both houses of Congress and cannot compel disclosure of information or testimony from credit card companies. Stefanik’s letter, however, signals a likely line of inquiry should the GOP cede control of the House of Representatives in November’s midterm elections.

“I am strongly opposed to this attempt to track the information of law-abiding gun owners and I call this attempt to violate our Constitutional Second Amendment rights,” Stefanik told the Post. “As politicians on the extreme left seek to further undermine our constitution, I am working to ensure that credit card companies do not endorse their anti-Second Amendment agenda.”

Earlier, Republicans paid close attention to oversight and criticism of the Obama administration’s Operation Choke Point, which aimed to use federal agency power to destroy the operations of disadvantaged but legitimate businesses, such as some firearms sellers and payday lenders.

Visa, Mastercard and American Express did not immediately respond to Post’s requests for comment.

https://nypost.com/2022/09/14/elise-stefanik-house-gop-demand-visa-gun-sale-transparency/ House GOP Elise Stefanik calls for transparency on Visa gun sales

JACLYN DIAZ

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