Since September, MRCTV has been reporting on what appear to be politically-pushed moves to assign a “sales code” identifier to gun shop purchases. The major credit card companies can use those codes, which, in turn, could make it very easy for all levels of government to collect info on peaceful gun shop buys without obtaining constitutionally required public warrants.
Mike Maharrey, of the Tenth Amendment Center reports that on April 13, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) signed HB 1110, a statute that prohibits financial institutions operating in Ol’ Miss from requiring a “merchant code” for the purchases of firearms and ammunition.
“Titled the Second Amendment Financial Privacy Act, the law prohibits a financial institution or its agent from requiring the usage of a firearms code in a way that distinguishes a firearms retailer physically located in the state of Mississippi from general merchandise retailers or sporting goods retailers.
On March 27, the House approved the final version of HB1110 by a 115-0 vote and the Senate approved the measure by a 52-0 vote. On Apr. 13, Gov Reeves signed the bill into law, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.”
This is a significant move, conducted in the tradition of original US federalism and in support of the right to privacy and the right to self-defense.
Maharrey observes a key portion of the official legislative release:
“In September 2022, the International Standards Organization, based in Switzerland, approved a new merchant category code for firearm and ammunition merchants. In the letter to payment card networks, federal lawmakers stated that the new Merchant Category Code for firearms retailers would be ‘. . .the first step towards facilitating the collection of valuable financial data that could help law enforcement in countering the financing of terrorism efforts,’ expressing a clear government expectation that networks will utilize the new Merchant Category Code to conduct mass surveillance of constitutionally protected firearms and ammunition purchases in cooperation with law enforcement. The new Merchant Category Code will allow the banks, payment card networks, acquirers, and other entities involved in payment card processing to identify and separately track lawful payment card purchases at firearms retailers in the State of Mississippi, paving the way for both unprecedented surveillance of Second Amendment activity and unprecedented information sharing between financial institutions and the government.”
And, beyond the ISO code problem noted above, HB 1110 addresses a wider scope of potential rights violations by government.
“The law also prohibits a state governmental agency or local government, special district, or other political subdivision or official, agent, or employee of the state or other governmental entity or any other person, public or private, from knowingly and willfully keeping any list, record, or registry of privately owned firearms or any list, record, or registry of the owners of those firearms unless it is in the regular course of a criminal investigation or prosecution.”
Of course, given the vast array of federal and state statutes that already categorize as illegal numerous peaceful activities associated with gun purchase/trade or ownership, HB 1110 leaves open the possibility that Mississippi governmental bodies might engage in list-keeping, etc., in order to “enforce” those unjustified statutes. Readers who are curious about the extant Mississippi gun statutes can read about them here, and likely will note that the state is relatively freer than many when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms.
MRCTV readers also likely have noted that in March, the major credit card companies began to balk about using those ISO codes, specifically because numerous state governments were making moves to oppose their utilization.
Maharrey reiterates this:
“The three major credit card companies have ‘paused’ development of the firearms merchant code, but only because of state bills like HB1110. In an email to Reuters, a Mastercard representative said such bills would cause ‘inconsistency’ in how the code could be applied by merchants, banks and payment networks. The more states that ban such codes, the more likely this program gets scrapped altogether.”
As I noted at the end of September, within the political world, conservative-leaning states and localities are pushing back against left-leaning bureaucrats and politicians. And it is control of vast money-reserves in the form of municipal pension plans and other government-connected “investment” money that the New York City Comptroller, Brad Lander, leveraged to push the credit card companies to initially adopt the codes.
Lander intimated that the corporate adoption of such codes would be used by government, i.e., the agents of the state would be able to skirt the Fourth Amendment.
Maharrey observes that this expanding universe of intrusive government “data” collection groups not only stand in total contradistinction from the original intent of the Founders, but that, already, they routinely use corporate ties to skirt constitutional “protections” of our rights.
“As the legislative findings warn, data collected from this merchant code would almost certainly end up in federal government databases.
The feds can share and tap into vast amounts of information gathered at the state and local level through fusion centers and a system known as the ‘information sharing environment’ or ISE."
And Maharrey adds:
“Fusion centers operate within the broader ISE. According to its website, the ISE ‘provides analysts, operators, and investigators with information needed to enhance national security. These analysts, operators, and investigators…have mission needs to collaborate and share information with each other and with private sector partners and our foreign allies.’ In other words, ISE serves as a conduit for the sharing of information gathered without a warrant. Known ISE partners include the Office of Director of National Intelligence which oversees 17 federal agencies and organizations, including the NSA. ISE utilizes these partnerships to collect and share data on the millions of unwitting people they track.”
This move by the government of Mississippi is a manifestation of a growing battle between those who would respect our rights and those who would not. Some pro-freedom people might argue that the companies should be able to use this code if they want to, but the ISO – the organization that creates the codes – is, as I noted last fall, an international bureaucracy that, itself, is comprised of bureaucrats from many nations.
As a result, using state-level power to block federal or international attempts to impose codes that facilitate spying on gun shops quite arguably can be seen as a big positive in the current battle for our rights.
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