Discover is the first major credit card issuer to announce that it will implement a new merchant category code (MCC) created to track purchases at gun stores with the express purpose of monitoring and reporting to authorities any activity the company considers “suspicious.”
Discover told news outlet Reuters that it would begin its surveillances of gun shop purchases in April.
Noticeably absent from Discover’s statement was any explanation of how the company will determine which purchases are sufficiently “suspicious” to warrant reporting or what information, if any, customers will be provided when they have triggered an alert.
Discover claimed in its comments to Reuters that it was merely “following th[e] lead” of other credit card issuers that “had already decided to implement the new code in April.” No such company, however, would admit as much to Reuters. It may be that as the credit card industry takes a closer look at operationalizing the scheme, executives will understand it is unworkable, unwise, and eminently un-American.
Credit cards can no longer be considered a mere convenience or luxury in the modern economy. Particularly when transacting online, they are all but a necessity. While gun owners may be able in the short term to modify their purchasing practices, or avoid companies like Discover that infringe on their privacy and rights, they shouldn’t have to fear scrutiny or harassment for their lawful – and especially their constitutionally-protected – purchases.