NEW YORK – Mayor Eric Adams and Comptroller Brad Lander are seeking to use New York government retirement investments as leverage to pressure the credit card industry to launch a credit card purchase tracking system. firearms, arguing that such a mechanism could help prevent future mass shootings.
Under current rules, MasterCard, VISA, Amex and other credit card networks must categorize purchases in everything from grocery stores to bike shops under specific merchant category codes. But there are no such codes for gun and ammunition retailers – meaning purchases in those categories are only listed as “miscellaneous” on credit card reports.
At a Tuesday afternoon press conference at City Hall, Adams, Lander and a group of other local officials said establishing a weapons code would allow financial institutions to detect and report suspicious gun purchases to law enforcement, such as an unusually high number of firearms purchased in a short period of time.
Notably, some American mass shooters have made extraordinarily large purchases, including the perpetrator of the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Florida, who used a MasterCard to buy $26,000 worth of guns and ammunition in the days before the attack.
But Lander said MasterCard, VISA and Amex have so far opposed a proposed arms dealer code pending before the International Organization for Standardization, the entity responsible for regulating the code system.
“Unfortunately MasterCard, American Express and VISA have not supported this simple, convenient and vital tool,” Lander said. “The time has come for them to do so.”
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In order to increase the pressure, Lander said the city’s three public superannuation funds — which hold more than $800 million invested with MasterCard, VISA and Amex — have issued formal shareholder proposals with the giants. credit cards demanding that they support the creation of a new code for arms purchases.
“Why wouldn’t you want to do that?” said public attorney Jumaane Williams, administrator of the city’s pension funds. “It’s preventive and it empowers people. What can you tell us to explain why you wouldn’t do this, when you do it everywhere else, except for what causes death and carnage? »
Despite the tough talks, Lander hasn’t promised to hand over city pension money to credit card behemoths if they vote against creating a new gun dealers code when the International Organization for Standardization will meet this fall.
“I’m hopeful that these three companies will understand where their investors are and where the American people are,” the Comptroller said.
Representatives for Amex and VISA did not return requests for comment on Tuesday.
Seth Eisen, a spokesman for MasterCard, said the company is still considering the proposal before the International Organization for Standardization. But he also noted that MasterCard values the “privacy” of its customers.
“As we do with other MCC proposals and related topics, we are considering how it could be implemented and managed by banks that connect merchants to our network,” Eisen wrote in an email. “This will help us continue to provide a payment system that supports all lawful purchases while protecting the privacy and decisions of individual cardholders.”