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Governor Signs Ting Bill That Helps Flag Suspicious Gun & Ammunition Sales In CA

For immediate release:
Governor Signs Ting Bill That Helps Flag Suspicious  Gun & Ammunition Sales In CA

Governor Newsom signed AB 1587 by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) today, bringing in financial institutions as partners to help prevent gun violence. The legislation requires banks and credit card companies to implement the newly-developed merchant category code (MCC) assigned to gun dealers in California, allowing them to flag suspicious activity. 

“We must use every tool possible to end our gun violence epidemic. Financial institutions can now be a part of our efforts since they are in a unique position to flag buying patterns that no one else can. Merchant codes are already assigned to other retailers, and the gun industry should be included. Identifying large purchases of firearms and ammunition can be instrumental in helping California prevent tragedies and to save lives,” said Ting.

MCCs are 4-digit codes used all around the world, and each one is assigned to a particular industry. A year ago, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) established an MCC for firearms retailers, bringing them in line with virtually all other retailers. Prior to that, they were coded as “sporting goods” or “other.” The change could be impactful because between 2007 and 2018 credit cards were used to finance at least eight major mass shootings. Gun safety advocates say law enforcement might have prevented these shootings had financial institutions alerted authorities.

“It is unthinkable that merchant category codes are not used for gun and ammunition sellers, when they are applied to nearly every type of business - like restaurants, toll roads, and even snowmobile dealers. The use of merchant category codes for gun sellers holds the potential to identify dangerous patterns, including when someone may be trafficking firearms or accumulating an arsenal to use in a mass shooting, the same way these codes are used to identify human trafficking. Brady applauds the work of Assemblymember Ting and all co-authors who have worked tirelessly to get this bill passed, and we thank Governor Newsom for signing it into law,” said Kris Brown, President of Brady: United Against Gun Violence.

Some states, such as Texas and Florida, have banned the use of MCC for firearms, causing major credit card companies to announce that they are pausing implementation of these merchant category codes for gun dealers. But Ting hopes his bill inspires financial institutions to forge ahead. They are already trained to submit Suspicious Activity Reports to the federal government when they suspect purchases are reflective of crimes, such as human trafficking, terrorism and fraud. 

AB 1587 requires that beginning May 1, 2025, the merchant category code must be assigned to the firearms and ammunitions retailer.