Home A project of States Newsroom
Brief
Pingree among lawmakers asking credit card companies to flag suspicious gun purchases

Share

Pingree among lawmakers asking credit card companies to flag suspicious gun purchases

Dec 11, 2023 | 11:02 am ET
By AnnMarie Hilton
Share
Pingree among lawmakers asking credit card companies to flag suspicious gun purchases
Description
Last legislative session, both Democrats and Republicans in Maine voted down provisions that would have required a criminal background check for most people buying guns and instituted a 72-hour waiting period. (Sergio Flores/Bloomberg, Getty Images)

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree is among dozens of other Democrats asking major credit card companies to explain why they’ve paused a plan to flag suspicious firearm purchases. 

According to a news release from Pingree’s office, the flagging system is a new Merchant Category Code that would classify gun and ammunition sellers using a four-digit code. It was created in September 2022. The release said it could help prevent gun violence, gun trafficking and domestic terrorism by identifying suspicious firearm purchases like the one made before the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. 

Lawmakers sent letters late last week to American Express, Visa, Mastercard and Discover asking them to move forward with implementation, the release said. The rest of Maine’s congressional delegation — Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and U.S. Rep. Jared Golden — did not sign the letter. 

Credit card companies announced in March they were pausing their work to add the MCC for gun and ammunition sellers after it faced criticism from Republicans in multiple states who raised concerns over tracking consumer behavior. 

“Given that [they have] the capacity to implement the firearm and ammunition retailer MCC and flag suspicious patterns of purchases, [their] pause in adoption of this MCC signals an unwillingness to address [their] role in financing gun trafficking, gun violence, and acts of domestic terrorism,” the letter from nearly 50 Democratic senators and representatives reads.

In the letter, lawmakers said credit card companies waiting on the outcome of related bills in state legislatures are holding up the process and argued they should “at a minimum implement the MCC in all states where it remains legal.”