Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares has joined a group of attorneys general in criticizing a handful of financial institutions for a new policy that would track and monitor gun purchases.
At the center of the coalition’s anger is recent action by the International Organization for Standardization – a global federation of national standards bodies – which would create a merchant category code that gun shops would use when processing credit and debit card transactions.
The attorneys general raised concerns about the new policy in a September 20 letter to the CEOs of American Express, Mastercard and Visa. The letter was authored by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen and Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti and signed by 22 other attorneys general, including Miyares.
“When Virginians legally buy guns with credit cards, it should be no one’s business but theirs,” Miyares said in a statement. “Big governments and corporations already collect and track enough of our private data. This new policy will do little more than endanger the privacy of Virginians and discourage law-abiding citizens from exercising their constitutional right to purchase a gun.
While it’s unclear if any of the financial institutions have started using the new categorization, attorneys general say it violates the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and public safety.
“The new code will not protect public safety. The categorization of the constitutionally protected right to purchase firearms unfairly targets law-abiding traders and consumers,” the letter states.
Among the criticisms raised by the letter are concerns about “vague and misleading information” and possible misuse of the data collected.
“Creating and tracking this data only matters if your institutions plan to use this information to take other harmful actions – like invading consumer privacy, inhibiting constitutionally protected purchases by selectively restricting the use of your payment systems, or otherwise withholding your financial services from targeted “disadvantaged” merchants,” the letter read.
Miyares and the other attorneys general also called the new policy corporate overreach and a way to promote corporate social values.
“The new code for gun shops is the result of transnational collusion among large corporations leveraging their market power to further the social outcomes desired by their owners,” the letter said. “Social policy must be debated and determined within our political institutions. Americans are tired of seeing corporate influence used to advance political goals that cannot muster grassroots Democratic support.
The letter threatens the companies with legal action if they decide to implement the new categorization, saying the attorneys general “will mobilize the full extent of our legal authority to protect our citizens and consumers from unlawful attempts to infringe their rights. constitutional”.
This story was first published by the Daily Montanan, a sister publication to the Virginia Mercury within the States Newsroom network. Mercury editor Sarah Vogelsong contributed reporting.