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Gun Violence & Hate Crime Legislation by Asm Ting Take Effect July 1

For immediate release:

More preventative tools championed by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) will become available next month that will help address two public safety concerns: gun violence and hate crimes. First, under AB 1587, financial institutions must make a Merchant Category Code (MCC) available for firearms and ammunition on July 1. Those companies indicated earlier this year they would comply.

Retailers then have until May 2025 to integrate the code into their systems. When unusual or suspicious purchases occur with this code, banks and credit card companies would be able to flag such activity. They are already trained to submit Suspicious Activity Reports to the federal government when they suspect activities are reflective of crimes, such as human trafficking, terrorism and fraud. 

“With firearms now the number one cause of death for U.S. children, we must use every avenue 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 notice buying patterns that no one else can. When stockpiling of firearms and ammunition appears to take place, alerting authorities can be instrumental in helping California prevent tragedies and save lives,” said Ting.

MCCs are 4-digit codes used all around the world, and each one is assigned to a particular product or service. Most everyday charges on our credit cards have an MCC tied to them – whether it be travel, restaurants, groceries or other businesses consumers frequent. These codes are how our banks and credit unions are able to give points to their customers for certain charges, or categorize their spending.

The inclusion of gun and ammunition purchases 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. In 2022, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) established an MCC for the gun industry, bringing them in line with virtually all other retailers. Several states have prohibited the use of the MCC for firearms and ammunitions purchases, which are typically coded as “sporting goods” or “other.”  

“AB 1587 is a common-sense measure that can help us identify dangerous purchasing patterns reflective of trafficking firearms or accumulation of arsenal to use in a mass shooting. This is a tool to stop gun violence before it happens. These industry-specific codes are used for all type of businesses: restaurants, toll roads and even snowmobile dealer codes are used by financial institutions. However, the code for firearms and ammunition sellers was not in use – but that changes July 1 because of the leadership of Assemblymember Ting and the California Legislature. Brady applauds the work done to provide a tool to prevent violence in California before it happens,” said Kris Brown, President of Brady.

Another bill by Ting that’s taking effect next month is AB 449, which requires all law enforcement agencies in California to have a hate crimes policy and to follow specific guidelines when responding to such incidents. In 2018, the State Auditor found that California’s hate crimes are under-reported by 14% due, in part, to outdated or non-existent policies – all of which contribute to an incomplete picture of hate in our state.

“It’s ridiculous that some jurisdictions in our state are reporting zero hate crimes. Problems can’t be solved without the true depth and frequency of these incidents. Once we have accurate data, we can use that information to guide us in implementing preventative measures, more services for victims and stronger education programs,” said Ting.

While hate crimes against the Asian American Pacific Islander have recently decreased, the overall numbers have increased 20-percent, according to the 2022 numbers from the CA Department of Justice. Attacks and violence against other groups based on religion, sexual orientation, disability and other races are rising.

“All communities deserve to be free from hate crimes. The California Asian Pacific American Bar Association was proud to stand with Assemblymember Ting, the twenty-six diverse groups of the California Hate Crimes Coalition, and members of Asian Justice Movement to support AB 449,” said Charles Jung, Executive Director of the California Asian Pacific American Bar Association (Cal-APABA).