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House gives final passage to bill which bans tracking of credit card gun purchases

Eleven states across the nation have already passed similar legislation.

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The Alabama House awarded final passage on Tuesday to a bill that was carried in the chamber by State Rep. Shane Stringer, R – Mobile, and bans credit card companies from tracking gun purchases and collecting data on Alabamians who buy firearms using debit or credit cards.

“The right to own firearms is enshrined in our nation’s Bill of Rights, and gun owners should be allowed to purchase a weapon without worrying about a private company tracking their actions and collecting data without their permission,” Stringer said. “The freedoms and liberties that too many among us take for granted are under constant threat today, and this legislation seeks to preserve the Second Amendment gun rights of all Alabamians.”

Retailers that accept debit and credit cards as payment are assigned a four-digit Merchant Category Code (MCC) by credit card companies that classifies their business, but rather than placing gun merchants under a more general category similar to the way grocery stores, discount stores, and others are treated, firearm sales are assigned a more specific and identifiable MCC that can be easily tracked.

In effect, the current MCC practice allows the creation of a private gun ownership database without the knowledge or authorization of those purchasing guns or ammunition.

Senate Bill 281 by Sen. Tim Melson, R – Florence, prohibits financial institutions or payment processors from assigning an MCC that distinguishes an Alabama firearms retailer from general merchandise retailers or sporting goods retailers. Placing gun merchants in the more generalized MCC category prevents the financial institutions or card companies from easily tracing firearm transactions or the individuals who purchase them.

The bill now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey for review, and if signed into law, the Alabama attorney general may assess fines of $1,000 for each violation of its provisions.

Eleven states across the nation – Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming – have already passed similar legislation, and the bill currently awaits signature on the governors’ desks in Georgia and Tennessee.

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The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

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