New York City Mayor Eric Adams and elected leaders on Tuesday called on American Express, MasterCard and Visa, three of the world’s largest credit card companies, to support a proposal to establish a Merchant Category Code (MCC). for arms and ammunition stores.
The mayor said the creation of a new code would help financial institutions detect and report suspicious activity, such as unusually large purchases of firearms or ammunition, or purchases from multiple stores, which could be used for criminal purposes.
Credit card companies use a four-digit merchant category code to categorize businesses by the types of goods and services sold, Adams said.
He said merchant category codes are defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Adams said unique merchant category codes exist for grocery stores, sporting goods stores, bike stores and many other retailers, but not for gun and ammunition stores.
Proposals have been submitted to the ISO to create a merchant category code for firearms retailers, but American Express, MasterCard and Visa did not support the idea.
The press conference, which comes ahead of an ISO fall meeting, highlighted the introduction of shareholder proposals by the three pension funds of American Express and Mastercard, and called for transparency on the decisions taken regarding merchant category codes for arms and ammunition stores.
The three pension funds also sent a letter with the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) to American Express, Mastercard and Visa.
The three pension funds own 667,200,000 shares of American Express valued at approximately $92.49 million; 1.1 million shares of MasterCard valued at approximately $347.59 million; and 1.85 million Visa shares valued at approximately $363.86 million.
Tuesday’s announcement also follows a letter to MasterCard and American Express from 50 New York State legislators, led by New York State Senator Zellnor Myrie and Assemblywoman of New York State Chantel Jackson, calling for the creation of this code.
“When it comes to firearms falling into the wrong hands, we need to find solutions upstream before we are faced with downstream consequences, because downstream consequences are lives lost,” said the Mayor Adams. “When you buy a plane ticket or pay for groceries, your credit card company has a special code for these retailers.
“It’s just common sense that we have the same policies in place for arms and ammunition stores,” he added. “I’m proud to join Comptroller (Brad) Lander and our partners at the state level in calling for this important policy change.”
“Gun violence continues to ravage our nation and our city’s communities,” Lander said. “As fiduciaries, we have a responsibility to minimize the risk of harm that could negatively impact our portfolio companies.
“Establishing a merchant category code to identify purchases from gun retailers could do just that, helping prevent gun crime and saving lives,” he said. . “Unfortunately, credit card companies haven’t supported this simple, convenient, and potentially life-saving tool. Now is the time for them to do so.
“We must fight for public safety through every tool at our disposal: reduce the flow of guns into our communities, work with police to fight crime, and demand that businesses do their part,” said New York State Attorney General Letitia James. “Communities could stop paying the price for gun violence if credit card companies did their part to categorize gun purchases and report suspicious activity to law enforcement.
“There are categories for almost every purchase, but none for the multi-billion dollar firearms industry,” she added. “These changes could save lives and go a long way in helping us combat gun violence. I’m proud to stand with my partners in government to call on the biggest credit card companies to step up and help us protect communities.
New York City public attorney Jumaane D. Williams, son of Grenadian immigrants, says credit card companies are already using merchant category codes for retailers, from utilities to transportation and more. by clothing, stating that “it is high time they also used them to specifically mark gun shops as well.
“As administrators of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, we have invested in the big three credit card companies,” he said. “We have a fiscal and moral responsibility to protect the safety and finances of New Yorkers by urging these businesses to exercise that same responsibility and implement category codes to help detect suspicious purchases at gun stores. and ammunition.
“Every illegal gun was legal at one time, and the use of these codes would be instrumental in monitoring and tracking these legal gun sales as well as future gun trafficking,” Williams added.
“Gun violence is a public health and safety crisis that demands a strong response from all sectors, including financial services,” said Myrie, representing the 20e Senate District in Brooklyn, which traces its roots to Jamaica.
“Credit card companies have the power to track suspicious spending patterns and can use a designated MCC to help save lives,” he added. “I commend Comptroller Lander for leading this shareholder action to demand responsible leadership and true public-private partnership to end gun violence.”
“Gun violence is a crisis that has torn too many families apart for far too long,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr., whose father is from Jamaica. “We need to think creatively and act aggressively to fight this scourge,
“Credit card companies have their part to play in this area and must do their part to help combat gun violence and keep our families safe,” he added.
“To prevent gun violence, we need more tools available to track purchases of dangerous weapons,” said Michael Gianaris, Deputy Majority Leader of the state Senate. “Credit card companies must be part of the solution and I am pleased to support the efforts of Senator Myrie and Comptroller Lander to secure a new Merchant Category Code for firearms purchases.”