House bill seeks to block credit card companies from tracking gun, ammo purchases 

FILE - In this June 11, 2019, file photo, Chris Puehse, owner of Foothill Ammo, displays .45-caliber ammunition for sale at his store. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

RALEIGH — A bill filed in the North Carolina House seeks to block credit card companies from attaching flags or codes to firearm and ammunition purchases. 

House Bill 564, Second Amendment Financial Privacy Act, was filed earlier this month by Reps. Reece Pyrtle (R-Rockingham), Edward Goodwin (R-Chowan) and Charles Miller (R-Brunswick). Joining the primary sponsors of the bill is House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain).  

If enacted, the bill would amend current statutes by adding a new article to prohibit financial institutions from using a firearm code in connection with payment card transactions involving a firearms retailer in the state and from knowingly maintaining a record of persons in the state who own firearms. 

“No financial institution shall knowingly maintain a record of individuals residing in this State who own firearms,” according to the bill.  

The measure would also allow the state’s attorney general to assess civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation after notice is given and a hearing is held. There are also civil actions individuals can take with the same penalty limit for each violation plus attorneys fees and court costs. The civil actions would have a three-year statute of limitations. 

The bill cites merchant codes (MCC) created for firearms retailers by the Switzerland-based International Organization for Standardization in September 2022. 

“The new merchant category code would allow banks, payment card networks, and others involved in payment card processing to identify and separately track lawful payment card purchases at firearms retailers in North Carolina,” the bill states. “This surveillance would cause a significant chilling effect on individuals in North Carolina wishing to exercise their federal and State constitutional rights to keep and bear arms.” 

Credit card giants Visa and Mastercard have both seemingly backed off implementing the practice after several state legislatures filed bills similar to North Carolina’s House Bill 564. 

“There are bills advancing in several states related to the use of this new code,” a Mastercard spokesperson said in an early March 2023 statement. “If passed, the proposals would create an ‘inconsistency’ in how the code is applied by merchants and others. It’s for that reason that we have decided to pause work on the implementation of the firearms-specific MCC.”  

A spokesperson for Visa said the company would pause the practice due to “significant confusion and legal uncertainty” of the bills being filed blocking MCC. 

About A.P. Dillon 1320 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_