New York City officials want the nation’s credit card companies to help them track down gun buyers who may be helping to exacerbate the city’s problem with gun violence.
Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and Attorney General Letitia James urged on Tuesday that credit card companies improve their tracking of gun sales.
The appeal also comes from pension trustees and is being aimed at three of the largest companies, Visa, American Express, and MasterCard in hopes of tracking suspicious activity, such as large purchases of firearms or ammunition that could be used to commit crimes, through an established merchant category code (MCC).
Speakers used the infamous Pulse nightclub shooting as a symbol of how this act could help prevent further mass shootings. Reports indicated that the shooter opened new credit cards and purchased stocks of firearms prior to the tragedy. The electeds argued that if guns had a merchant category code, law enforcement would be able to prevent further mass shootings.
“One hundred and six people die a day in our country from guns. And when you think about these numbers, these are astronomical numbers,” Mayor Adams said. “Everyone must play a role and dam the rivers leading to gun violence.”
Attorney General James said that every other industry uses merchant category codes from hair salons to jewelry stores, yet guns remain the only product line that operates without a code. These codes are set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and exist for grocery stores, sporting goods and other retailers, and while proposals have been brought before the ISO to develop codes for firearm stores, American Express, MasterCard and Visa have been noted to not support the proposal. James believes this to be outrageous since firearms can be used to not only commit crimes but to also end lives.
“We do it for every other business except firearms, every other business, except firearms. Establishing these category codes on gun and ammunition purchases is a basic and common-sense step that would help prevent a future mass shooting or reduce the risk of gun trafficking,” Attorney General James. “If tracking these codes could stop just one mass shooting or derail one gun trafficker aiming to flood the streets with guns, it would be worth it.”
Following the call for an MCC, 50 New York State legislators, spearheaded by State Senator Zellnor Myrie and Assembly Member Chanel Jackson, have penned a letter pushing for a gun and ammunition retailer code.
“How much is a life worth?” Myrie asked. “The flowers that we have to put on the casket because guess what florists have a merchant category code. Is it worth the casket that we have to put them in because guess what? Funeral Services have a merchant category code. Is it worth the suits and the dresses that we have to wear to the funerals? Because men and women clothing stores have a merchant category code.”