Visa Joins Mastercard and AmEx in Specially Labeling Gun Deal Sales

Payment processor Visa announced on Saturday its plans to categorize gun shop sales separately, joining Mastercard and American Express, which have already announced they will categorize gun shop purchases.

Visa said it will apply the International Organization for Standardization’s new dealer code to gun sales. The new IOS code was announced on Friday. Previously, gun shop sales were referred to as “general merchandise”.

“Following ISO’s decision to introduce a new code for merchant categories, Visa will proceed with the next steps while ensuring we protect all legitimate commerce on the Visa network in accordance with our longstanding rules,” Visa said in a statement.

Visa’s move signals a major victory for gun control advocates, who argue that a separate category for gun shop sales will help track suspicious amounts of firearm sales that could potentially lead to mass shootings.

But gun rights advocates and gun lobbyists have said that categorizing gun sales would be unfair to the industry because most firearm sales do not lead to mass shootings.

Visa, which acts as an intermediary between merchants and banks, is the largest payment network. And with three major payment processors opting to flag gun store sales, banks as card issuers are now likely to be pressured to decide whether to allow purchases classified as gun store sales on their issued cards.

New York City officials and pension funds had been urging the ISO and banks to adopt the new Code for the Sale of Arms Dealers.

Two of the largest public pension funds in the US, based in California and New York, have put pressure on the country’s largest credit card companies to introduce separate sale codes for gun sales.

Payment processor Visa announced on Saturday its plans to separately link gun shop sales.
Payment processor Visa announced on Saturday its plans to separately link gun shop sales.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Merchant category codes are not unique to gun shop sales, however, as the codes now exist for almost every type of purchase, including those in supermarkets, clothing stores, coffee shops, and other retailers.

“When you buy a plane ticket or pay for your groceries, your credit card company has a special code for these retailers. It’s just common sense that we have the same policies for gun and ammo deals,” said New York City Democratic Mayor Eric Adams.

Gun control advocates claim that the Dealer Code for gun and ammunition retailers could curb gun violence. A week before the 2016 Pulse Nightclub mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, the shooter purchased more than $26,000 worth of guns and ammunition using credit cards.

However, gun rights advocates dispute that tracking sales at gun stores would target legal gun purchases, since dealer codes only identify the type of dealer where the credit or debit card is used, not the specific items. Buying a gun safe, for example, might be considered a large purchase at a gun store since the item can be purchased for thousands of dollars. But a gun safe is a product that is part of responsible gun ownership.

“That [industry’s] The decision to create a firearms-specific code is nothing more than a surrender to anti-gun politicians and activists bent on undermining the rights of law-abiding Americans with transaction after transaction,” said the spokesman for the National Rifle Association , Lars Dalseide.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Visa Joins Mastercard and AmEx in Specially Labeling Gun Deal Sales


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