Lander hails decision to create merchant category code for gun-makers
They urge swift implementation for crime-fighting measure
On Tuesday, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, the Amalgamated Bank, trustees of several New York City official retirement funds, New York State Attorney General Letitia James and others held a press conference applauding the recent decision by the International Organization for Standardization to approve the application by Amalgamated Bank to create a new merchant category code (MCC) for standalone gun and ammunition stores.
The three pension funds own 667,200 thousand shares in American Express valued at approximately $92.49 million; 1.1 million shares in Mastercard valued at approximately $347.59 million; and 1.85 million shares in Visa valued at approximately $363.86 million as of June 30, 2022.
“We all need to do our part to prevent gun violence, and the creation of a merchant category code for gun stores will enable financial institutions to do theirs. Now, gun and ammunition stores will be identified, just as bike shops or clothing stores already are. As shareholders, we will continue to engage with the major credit card companies to ensure these codes are implemented and utilized to curb illegal activity,” said Lander.
An MCC is a four-digit number that financial institutions use to identify businesses by the types of goods or services sold. Currently, many businesses are issued a distinct MCC, from clothing stores and transportation providers to very specific types of businesses such as shoeshine shops, and wig and toupee stores.
However, there has been no MCC for standalone gun and ammunition stores. With the creation of this code, financial institutions now have a new tool to detect and report suspicious activity at gun and ammunition retailers associated with criminal activity, Lander said.
Lander, Mayor Eric Adams, AG James and other state and city officials called for the creation of a code last month as the ISO meeting approached.
That call followed the filing of a shareholder proposal by Comptroller Lander and the trustees of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, Teachers’ Retirement System and Board of Education Retirement Systems at American Express and Mastercard requesting that the boards of both companies assess and publicly report to all investors on their oversight of management’s decision-making regarding any application to the ISO to establish an MCC for standalone gun and ammunition stores.
“Today’s decision requiring credit cards to categorize gun sales is a big victory that will help us better address gun violence and avoid tragedies. Labeling gun and ammunition sales is a responsible, common sense way to help protect Americans and I thank Amalgamated Bank for their bold leadership on this critical issue,” said James, a former Brooklyn councilmember.
“Every illegal gun was legal at some point, and the usage of these codes can be extremely important in monitoring and flagging suspicious gun purchases as well as future gun trafficking. This simple step can help detect suspicious activity and prevent violence,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
“Today marks a historic step forward in the fight to end gun violence in our lifetime. I wholeheartedly applaud the creation of a new MCC for gun and ammunition retailers and am confident that with help from credit card companies, we have a new way to protect our communities through the tracking of suspicious transactions,” said Brooklyn’s State Sen. Zellnor Myrie.
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