Republican state attorneys general are warning major credit card companies not to pursue a new code that would identify retail firearms purchases, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Attorneys general from 23 red states on Tuesday are expected to send a letter to Visa, Mastercard, and American Express to say that the card companies' plan to add the code could result in misuse of consumer data and would not protect the public, WSJ reported.
"Categorizing the constitutionally protected right to purchase firearms unfairly singles out law-abiding merchants and consumers alike," the letter read, WSJ reported.
Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti and Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen led the effort to notify the companies, who earlier this month said they would add a new merchant-category code (MCC) for firearms retailers.
Sen. Roger Marshall, R.-Kan., recently sent a letter to the CEOs of the three credit card companies saying that lawmakers would intercede to prevent businesses from doing "an end run" around the Second Amendment. The letter was signed by 11 other GOP senators.
WSJ reported that some executives privately have expressed concerns that the firearms MCC could lead to the creation of more codes, such as one for abortion providers.
The new MCC recently was approved by an international entity that sets standards for the payments industry, WSJ said.
"We will marshal the full scope of our lawful authority to protect our citizens and consumers from unlawful attempts to undermine their constitutional rights," the AGs letter said, WSJ reported.
Firearms retailers have been categorized under more general groups such as specialty retailers or durable-goods sellers.
The new MCC unquestionably has gotten the attention of gun-control and gun-rights advocates.
Gun-control advocates, many of whom are focused on curbing mass shootings, say the new MCC could help identify suspicious gun sales.
Advocates for gun rights say the code could unfairly prevent legal gun purchases.
Visa, Mastercard, and Amex say the new MCC won't stop gun purchases, and added that the companies won't allow purchases to be blocked based solely on the code.
"We do not believe private companies should serve as moral arbiters," Visa said last week.
"If we identify unauthorized blocking or intentional restrictions of legal commerce, we will take swift action to address such activity," Mastercard said recently, WSJ reported.
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