September 20, 2023
The Honorable Gavin Newsom State Capitol Sacramento, California 95814
RE: AB 1587 | Merchant Code: Firearms | REQUEST FOR VETO
Dear Governor Newsom:
Gun Owners of California is writing to respectfully request your veto of AB 1597, which mandates entities that process credit card payment transactions to assign a category code for the sale of firearms and ammunition.
As you are no doubt aware, the International Organization for Standardization establishes category codes for businesses worldwide. They recently created new codes specific to firearms and ammunition. Right out of the gate, it is important to note that it is not the firearm dealers/retailers who assign the use of the ISO’s Merchant Category Codes (MCC), but rather the credit card processing provider.
Thus, according to AB 1587, it is the processors who would be charged with a crime and fined if they do not treat transactions with the firearms and ammunition codes, not the dealers. It is our understanding as well that under the provisions of AB 1587, such a code would cover all transactions from the firearms and ammunition businesses. Consequently, if someone were to make such a benign credit card purchase as a candy bar or a t-shirt, their transactions would be cataloged as being firearms and ammunition related.
Recent reports indicate that Visa, MasterCard, and American Express have expressed concerns regarding such policies, emphasizing that they cannot access individual item data and will continue to allow all lawful purchases.
“Our policy has been, and will remain, that our customers are able to make legal firearm purchases using our Cards,” said Brett Loper, Executive Vice President of Global Government Affairs for American Express.
MasterCard went on the record that the company “appreciates the urgent need to reduce gun violence in the U.S.,” but that MCCs “were never intended to be utilized as a law enforcement tool.”
“We do not believe private companies should serve as moral arbiters,” Visa chimed in as well, stating “Asking private companies to decide what legal products or services can or cannot be bought and from what store sets a dangerous precedent.”
GOC has testified on numerous occasions about our concerns regarding the imposition of new mandates on the DOJ; it has been abundantly clear – many times by the Department’s own admissions – that given its present staff and budget, they are ill equipped to properly handle their existing mandated responsibilities in a timely and efficient manner. This is yet another such requirement that will have no bearing whatsoever on the prevention of criminal gun use.
What potential chilling effect might this may have on a law-abiding citizen’s 2nd Amendment rights? What guarantees could the Department provide that an individual’s large, legal purchase for a hunting trip (and common-place visit to a range beforehand) wouldn’t trigger an unwelcome, and unwarranted visit?
GOC believes that the information accumulated by the use of the ISO designations for firearms and ammunition venders will provide no useful or additional data that would assist the DOJ or other law enforcement agencies in solving or preventing crimes of any sort. For these reasons, Gun Owners of California requests a veto of AB 1587.
Our organization has a 40-year history of fighting for effective crime control and opposing ineffective gun control. The safety of Californians is at the very foundation of our mission, and it has been our consistent goal to work toward common sense solutions regarding the issue of crime and firearm ownership; this can be achieved, however, without sacrificing our Constitutional rights and the ability of the law abiding to protect their families.
Sam Paredes, Executive Director
GUN OWNERS OF CALIFORNIA
1190 Suncast Lane, Suite 2, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762 – (916) 984-1400 (916) 984-1402 fax
A Political Committee Dedicated to Crime Control – Not Gun Control