States Rally to Protect Gun Owner Privacy Against Credit Card Tracking
In a proactive move against what many see as an encroachment on the Second Amendment rights and privacy of gun owners, lawmakers in Georgia, Kentucky, and Wisconsin have been working to safeguard credit card transaction data related to firearm purchases. This initiative comes in the wake of the International Organization for Standardization’s decision to implement a new Merchant Category Code (MCC) specifically for firearms retailers, a move that has raised concerns about the potential for surveillance and registration of law-abiding gun owners under the guise of transaction categorization.
Historically, transactions at firearms retailers were categorized under broader MCCs such as those for sporting goods stores or miscellaneous retail outlets. The introduction of a distinct MCC for gun purchases, however, opens the door to a level of scrutiny that many believe could be misused to monitor and catalog the purchasing habits of gun owners, effectively creating a de facto registry without their consent.
Georgia’s House Bill 1018, spearheaded by Republican Representative Jason Ridley, is a direct response to these concerns. The bill aims to prevent financial institutions from using the firearms-specific MCC to discriminate against or unfairly categorize transactions at firearms retailers located within the state. It underscores the principle that lawful transactions at gun stores should not be singled out from those at general merchandise or sporting goods retailers. Moreover, it establishes clear penalties for financial institutions that fail to adhere to these guidelines, empowering the Attorney General to seek injunctions against violators.
Kentucky and Wisconsin legislative bodies have also been considering similar measures. Kentucky’s House Bill 357, introduced by Republican Representatives Derek Lewis and Michael Meredith, mirrors Georgia’s bill in many respects, including the provision for legal action against non-compliant financial institutions. Wisconsin has gone a step further, with both the State Assembly and Senate passing Senate Bill 466, which now awaits Governor Tony Evers’ approval.
These legislative efforts represent a broader pushback against attempts to infringe upon the rights and privacy of gun owners under the pretext of financial oversight. By targeting the use of the firearms-specific MCC, these states are drawing a line in the sand, asserting the principle that the lawful purchase of firearms and ammunition should not subject individuals to undue surveillance or categorization.
The debate over the MCC for firearms retailers is more than a matter of transaction coding; it is a flashpoint in the ongoing discourse on gun rights, privacy, and the role of financial institutions in regulating or monitoring legal behavior. These bills signal a growing determination among pro-Second Amendment lawmakers and their constituents to defend not just the right to bear arms, but also the privacy and freedoms that underpin the American way of life.