By: José Niño

Gun controllers have become creative in their efforts to undermine the Second Amendment. When they can’t get their pet legislative projects signed into law, gun control proponents have used the corporate sector to advance their anti-freedom agenda.

For example, in September 2022, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved the creation of a separate Merchant Category Code (MCC) for firearms retailers. The ISO is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that is based in Geneva which is comprised of a network of “standards bodies” from all over the world. This network aims to forge consensus across several countries and economic sectors.

MCCs are generally used by payments processors such as Mastercard and Visa to categorize certain transactions. MCCs allow payment processors and banks to identify and surveil certain types of transactions. On top of that, MCCs allow for these payment processors and financial service companies to gather sensitive data on these transactions.

Prior to the ISO’s move to create a MCC for firearms vendors, firearms retailers were placed in the sporting goods stores or miscellaneous retail category. The ISO embraced the new firearm retailer MCC at the request of Amalgamated Bank and over protests from other major industry players. Amalgamated Bank is an ostensive left-wing institution, which states on its website that it’s “proud to support candidates, political parties, political action committees, and political organizations as they seek to build power for progressive change.”

Proponents of using the firearm retailer MCC have made it clear that their aim is to use the code to implement additional gun control through the private sector colliding with the state. Amalgamated Bank highlighted that its goal is to design a software algorithm that will use the MCC “to report suspicious activity and illegal gun sales to authorities.” What constitutes “suspicious activity” has unsurprisingly not been specified. This will likely end up in the tracking of legal gun sales, which could result in the combined violation of privacy and gun rights. The collection of firearm retailer financial transaction data is tantamount to not only the surveillance of lawful gun owners, but it also functions as a form of gun registration.

Due to opposition from gun owners, American Express, Mastercard, and Visa announced on March 9 that they had halted the enforcement of the new code. Most instrumental in this pushback were state legislatures passing legislation to curtail the use of the firearm vendor MCC, which played a significant role in these companies’ decision to not follow through with this policy.

The following states have already passed legislation banning or disincentivizing the use of the firearm vendor MCC:

  • Florida through its passage of SB 214.
  • Idaho through its passage of HB 295.
  • Mississippi through its passage of HB 1110.
  • Montana through its passage of SB 359.
  • North Dakota through its passage of HB 1487.
  • Texas through its passage of HB 2837.
  • West Virginia through its passage of HB 2004.

The anti-gunners never sleep. Just because they get defeated at the polls or at the state legislature, does not mean they will be giving up. Instead, they will try to weaponize the private sector to advance their agenda. Gun owners must organize in response to these moves. Retaliation through boycotts of anti-gun businesses and proactive legislation to rein in corporate power are necessary to keep our rights intact.

José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at [email protected]. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.