What is the impact of Visa’s categorization of gun sales?

(NewsNation) – Visa Inc. Saturday announced that it would file separately sales at gun stores — a measure that gun control advocates say could help flag suspicious sales ahead of a mass shooting.

Visa said it would adopt the new International Organization for Standardization merchant code for firearms sales. Until Friday, gun store sales were considered “general merchandise.”

Mastercard and American Express also plan to take similar action.

NewsNation spoke with Syracuse University political science professor Grant Reeher about the lingering questions surrounding the practice.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

NewsNation: Can you summarize the arguments on both sides of this conversation?

Find out: The argument in its favor is that somehow this data could potentially be used to interdict a possible mass shooting, to flag shopping activity of someone who might engage. The example that is used is that of a nightclub shooter in Florida several years ago who apparently purchased $26,000 worth of firearms and ammunition prior to this mass shooting. It’s a big number.

But then that begs the question: what would be the threshold? And what would you like credit card companies to do with this information? Are they going to contact law enforcement and say, “This person just bought $3,000 worth of items from a gun store? $5,000? $10,000?”

If it is something that requires a background check, it will get a background check because they are authorized dealers. These are not individual sales. Do we want these people to report this activity to the government when it exceeds a certain threshold? The two big questions are therefore: what is the threshold? And what do you do with this information?

No one ever said there was any intention to report people for buying $20,000 worth of groceries or $50,000 worth of plane tickets. So what’s the point of doing that? On the other hand, the only foreseeable point would be to use this data to report it and share it with other parties and if that is the case, it raises the question of whether we really want to report what the purchases are lawful. enforcement? And is that in itself a probable cause?

NN: Do licensed arms dealers already have some sort of system for reporting large purchases? Why or why not?

Find out: I’m not aware of anything purely driven by volume. But there are two problems here. I think the proponents of what’s going on here must have an answer for…the threshold. The problem here is that if we only look at the dollar figures we have to keep in mind that there are, for example, high end custom shotguns that you will never use for anything else needless to say, go on an elk hunt in Montana, which cost $15,000. They exist and those who have the means and the desire will buy them.

It’s different from someone buying 30 Glocks, which you can get for $500 each. So just looking at the dollar (amount) won’t necessarily tell you much about that person. It is a problem.

The second thing is if the argument is “we want to report this because it’s $26,000”, well, you have to say what you’re going to do with the data. Are you going to take this data and go to the FBI? It makes almost no sense to collect the data unless you intend to use it for something.

… Should we be comfortable with a credit card company reporting $1,000 worth of purchases of this nature to the police? A lot of people will say yes, of course I’m comfortable with that. There will be a lot of gun control advocates who say we want them all reported. But then we go back to a gun registration system, where the presumption of danger is going to be put on every legal gun purchase, and that’s generally proven to be a bridge too far for the American public .

NN: Could this change fuel the sale of “phantom guns” or otherwise alter gun buying behavior?

Find out: I don’t see that in this case, because as I understand it, the solution in this case would be to just buy the gun from a store with cash or check, because that’s not monitored here by the corporate credit card.

The reason so many people use credit cards to buy guns is, as I said earlier in our conversation, they can be very expensive depending on what you buy.

NN: Do the police have the manpower to dedicate the time to investigating something like this?

Find out: Again, if the threshold is low and the credit card companies report this, they’re just going to flood law enforcement with all this information… People are buying guns right now at a very high rate and it’s because of the pandemic, it’s because of concerns about what’s going on in the political process, whether some of these guns might not be purchased in the future. So we’re sort of in the middle of one of those buying panics right now. So there will be information that will just be piled up to law enforcement and they don’t have the personal authority to sort it all out.

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