US Banks and Credit Card Companies Are Reportedly Looking Into Monitoring Gun Purchases

May 4, 2018

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US banks and credit card companies are holding preliminary discussions about potentially monitoring consumers’ gun purchases within their internal payment systems, according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal.

Sources familiar with the discussions tell the Journal that the companies have researched the possibility of creating a credit card purchase code for firearm vendors (the same way the companies code a restaurant or retail purchase). Another possibility would be creating a provision that requires retailers to report information on what gun-related products customers are buying.

The discussions are unfurling in the wake of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which killed 17 teenagers in February and sparked a raucous firearm debate across the country. The ideas could foreshadow future restrictions on some gun-related transactions, according to inside sources cited by the Journal. Tracking consumers’ gun purchases would likely create controversy among gun rights organizations, which have historically advocated against monitoring gun ownership. And under current law, it’s illegal for the US government to track citizens’ gun ownership.

After the Parkland shooting, Citigroup released a new code of conduct for doing business with gun manufacturers and vendors. As part of that new policy, its retailers must only sell firearms to people over the age of 21. That new code of conduct, according to CEO Michael Corbat, “is intended to preserve the rights of responsible gun owners like myself, while relying on best sales practices to keep firearms out of the wrong hands.”

A Citigroup spokesperson told the Journal that the policy would not affect customers’ abilities to use Citi’s cards to legally purchase firearms. TPG also reached out to Citi, and a representative provided this additional statement: “We are focused on implementing our firearms policy and not on conversations around identifying gun purchases.”

TPG also reached out to Chase, which declined to comment on the reported discussions.

Amex told TPG in an email “American Express does not condone violence of any kind. We require merchants who accept American Express cards to adhere to all applicable laws, and Card Members are able to purchase firearms as long as they are sold legally.”

Bank of America told the Journal that the institution will no longer make new loans to manufacturers of certain types of assault rifles sold to civilians. A Bank of America spokesperson told TPG that the bank is “not involved in the discussions referenced in the news stories.”

Although it’s not exactly clear what companies are involved in the discussions, the Journal, citing sources familiar with the talks, reports that at least one large US bank has had preliminary discussions with officials about a law requiring retailers to report information about some firearm-related products consumers purchase with cards.

Featured image by Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

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