Republicans nationwide are condemning the move by credit card companies to reclassify firearm and ammunition sales into a special category.

The reclassification from “general merchandise” into a unique new merchant category code, or MCC, for such Constitutionally protected items was announced last week after an activist bank allied with anti-gun groups pressured the change from a Swiss-based standards institute. Now, with progressive politicians and gun control organs praising the move as some sort of "first step" in changing how purchases are made and tracked when it comes to firearms, Republicans are calling foul. 

"Americans are tired of seeing corporate leverage used to advance political goals that cannot muster basic democratic support," reads a five-page letter sent to the CEOs of American Express, Mastercard, and Visa by the attorneys general of 24, mostly red, states. "The Second Amendment is a fundamental right, but it’s also a fundamental American value. Our financial institutions should stop lending their market power to those who wish to attack that value."

Led by Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti along with Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen and co-signed by the AGs of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming, and West Virginia, the letter say the monitoring and tracking of firearms purchases creates a "list of gun buyers" and the obvious risk that law-abiding consumers’ information will be obtained and misused by those who oppose Americans exercising their right to keep and bear arms.

In Congress, at least 101 members of the House of Representatives have signed a similar letter, backed by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) pointing out that previous attempts to create firearm-specific codes have been denied by banking standardization organizations, even on appeal, and warnings suggest a new code would unduly burden smaller firearm retailers. 

A third letter, signed by 12 Senators led by Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (both R- Idaho) warned the credit card company bosses directly that "Creating a new merchant code for gun transactions is a choice being made by each of your companies. You are choosing the side of gun control advocates over the privacy and Second Amendment rights of millions of law-abiding Americans."

In absence of halting the use of the new MCC, the lawmakers are requesting answers from the credit card company CEOs as to what factors influenced each to settle on the controversial new policy, how the recategorization of gun and ammo sales jives with claims by groups such as Brady and Giffords that the action would reduce gun crime, and if law-abiding consumers would be able to continue to use these companies’ services without discrimination or infringement of their Second Amendment rights.

Meanwhile, Visa released a statement on the MCC code change, saying in part: 

We do not believe private companies should serve as moral arbiters. Asking private companies to decide what legal products or services can or cannot be bought and from what store sets a dangerous precedent. Further, it would be an invasion of consumers’ privacy for banks and payment networks to know each of our most personal purchasing habits. Visa is firmly against this.

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