Many on the anti-Second Amendment side think that law-abiding Americans should not be able to legally purchase firearms, and Discover’s recent announcement that it will implement the new merchant category code (MCC) created to track purchases at gun stores gives those types another potential tool for creating a database of people engaged in perfectly legal conduct; a database that the government cannot maintain, but could be able to access
The purpose of the code is supposedly for the company—and any other company later embracing the scheme—to monitor purchases at gun stores and report to authorities any purchase activity that the company deems to be “suspicious.” However, what a person working at Discover should consider “suspicious” and report is apparently not spelled out anywhere, and so is up for individual interpretation.
As the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) reported, “If fully implemented by the various payment processors, the hope of gun-control groups for this new MCC is that it will create a registry of gun owners that they have long sought.”
Use of the new MCC has come under a lot of criticism. In addition to attorneys general from nearly half the states sending a letter opposing the scheme, as well as opposition from some at Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, 100 U.S. Representatives sent a letter to VISA CEO Alfred Kelly concerning his company’s intent. Additionally, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R) penned a letter for Republican members of the Senate Banking Committee to the Bank Policy Institute (BPI) that was critical of the scheme.
“Let us be clear: Banks should not misuse their power to hinder the ability of law-abiding Americans to exercise a constitutional right by creating de-facto bans on legal firearm purchases,” Cramer wrote. “Addressing complex and contentious social and policy issues that involve balancing competing values is the job of democratically-elected leaders, not unelected bank executives. We urge BPI’s members to resist the political pressure to insert themselves into such issues, especially firearms. Instead, our nation’s largest financial institutions should focus on serving the needs of their customers without bias.”
Of course, in the announcement that it would be using the new MCC, Discover claimed it would protect its customers, even as it intends to share their private purchase data.
“We remain focused on continuing to protect and support lawful purchases on our network while protecting the privacy of cardholders,” Discover said in a statement to Reuters.
While that might appease some, since anyone purchasing a firearm through a retailer must pass an FBI background check, all such purchases that show up on Discover’s statements are already “lawful purchases.” So, the company is basically making it potentially possible for the FBI, ATF, and other government agencies to track legal gun purchases by people who have already passed a background check in order to make the purchase. Such tracking of law-abiding gun owners can do nothing to stop violent criminals.
What it can affect, however, is everyday Americans practicing their Second Amendment rights, and whose information could be given to the government when they legally purchase a gun (or anything at a gun store) using a Discover card or card of another company using the new merchant category code.
As for the danger of this scheme, America’s 1st Freedom Editor in Chief Frank Miniter put it best when he wrote, “At best, this is an attempt to harass gun owners and treat them like criminals; at worst, this new code, if actually put into use, could be used to make it difficult for gun dealers to stay in business while creating lists of who is buying things at gun stores in America.”