TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture wants to stop credit card companies from tracking gun purchases.
It’s the aim of new legislation that will soon be filed in the State Capitol.
Ziadeh Farhat runs Green Acres Sporting Goods off of Normandy Boulevard.
Recently, when customers have been making large purchases at the store using credit cards, he’s been getting a unique message saying the cards can’t be used at this type of merchant.
“And I get a lot of the customers that give me feedback. They say that the gun stores are only the stores that it happens,” said Farhat.
Farhat said generally, a quick phone call to the bank clears it up, but he worries the problem could get worse.
In recent months, American Express, Visa and Mastercard all adopted new merchant category codes, established by the International Organization for Standardization.
That means those card companies will now apply a unique merchant code to gun stores, similar to the unique codes used for gas and food.
Patricia Brigham with Prevent Gun Violence Florida said the goal of the unique codes is to help prevent mass shootings by flagging suspicious gun purchases.
“For example, the Pulse mass shooter spent over $20,000, credit card charges, on firearms and ammunition just days before the Pulse mass shooting. That would get my antenna up,” said Brigham.
But Florida’s new Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson sees the effort to track gun sales as a violation of privacy and an infringement on the second amendment.
He’s supporting a bill for the upcoming March legislative session that would ban the practice, and fine credit card companies $10,000 per-violation.
“This will be a shot across the bow so to speak to liberals trying to control our guns and ammunition in the country,” said Simpson.
Farhat said he supports the bill, as he sees the codes as a possible precursor to cutting off gun sales with credit cards entirely, like PayPal did in recent years.
“We’ve been in business 53 years. You know, we do everything by the book, and you know it’s a shame that it’s come to this,” said Farhat.
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Action News Jax did reach out to Master Card, Visa and American Express to get their thoughts on this bill, but didn’t hear back.