CalSTRS and New York Pension Funds Push Credit Card Companies to Help Track Gun Sales to Uncover Suspicious Activity

Mr. Lander also announced on August 30 the filing of a shareholder proposal at Mastercard and American Express to publicly report on their monitoring of the application of the code of firearms dealers. A similar proposal was not filed with Visa because the filing deadline had passed.

“Mass shootings are a significant societal issue. In 2022, there were 432 mass shootings through August,” and a financial institution “must ensure its systems are not used for criminal purposes” , indicates the proposition. Having a merchant code for gun and ammunition stores would allow credit card companies to use existing reporting systems, without limiting or regulating gun sales, while not solving the problem.” will lead to lost lives, as well as regulatory, reputational and litigation risks that can threaten long-term shareholder value,” the proposal also states.

One of CalSTRS’ top four stewardship priorities is responsible firearms, which addresses gun safety issues and aims to reduce investment risk, a CalSTRS spokeswoman said.

Investors’ call for the merchant category code was echoed in a Sept. 1 letter to credit card companies from 28 Democratic members of Congress. Written by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Rep. Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, lawmakers argue it could also help law enforcement track funding for terrorism efforts. The merchant category code, according to the Democrats’ letter, “could make it easier for financial institutions to monitor certain types of suspicious activity, including straw purchases and illegal wholesale purchases that could be used in the commission of acts of domestic terrorism or arms trafficking”.

Mastercard spokesman Seth Eisen said in an emailed statement that “we are reviewing how it could be implemented and managed by the banks that connect merchants to our network. This will help us continue to provide a payment system that supports all lawful purchases while protecting privacy”. and the decisions of individual cardholders. »

Calls to American Express and Visa for comment were not returned.