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Visa pauses decision to track purchases at gun shops

Visa is pausing their decision to start categorizing purchases at gun shops, a significant win for conservative groups and Second Amendment advocates who felt that tracking gun shop purchases would inadvertently discriminate against legal firearms purchases.

The decision is, at the same time, also a defeat for gun control groups. There had been hope that categorizing credit and debit card purchases would allow authorities to potentially see red flags — like significant ammunition purchases — before a mass shooting could happen.

Bloomberg News reported Thursday that Mastercard is also pausing its plans, but a spokesperson for the company did not immediately respond for a request for comment.

After Visa and Mastercard announced their plans to implement a separate merchant category code for gun shop purchases, the payment networks got significant pushback from the gun lobby as well as conservative politicians. A group of GOP state attorneys general wrote a letter to the payment networks threatening legal action against Visa and Mastercard if they moved forward with their plan.

In a statement, Visa indicated that the legal pushback was partially the reason they have paused their implementation.

“There is now significant confusion and legal uncertainty in the payments ecosystem, and the state actions disrupt the intent of global standards,” the company said.

Visa and Mastercard’s plan would not have tracked individual gun purchases. It would have instead broken out purchases at gun stores at a separate category. But not all large purchases at a gun shop would have been considered a red flag.

For example a purchase of a gun safe, which costs several thousands of dollars, would have been seen as a large purchase at a gun shop even though the safe is considered a responsible tool of gun ownership and unrelated to potential mass shootings.