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Bill Banning Financial Institutions from Tracking Gun Purchases Passes Committee

The proposed legislation ensures that no credit card company, bank or processor can designate a code that will track firearms or ammunition purchases.

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — On Thursday, The House Regulatory Reform and Economic Development Subcommittee passed HB 221, which would keep Florida residents safe from being flagged for gun purchases by credit card companies.

Sponsored by Rep. John Snyder (R-Martin County), HB 221 prohibits specified businesses from assigning merchant category codes or otherwise classifying merchants of firearms or ammunition separately from general merchandise or sporting goods retailers, and authorizes Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) to investigate alleged violations and bring actions.

Rep. Snyder explained that since 2004, merchant category codes have been used to track and classify purchases with credit cards. However, in 2021, New York-based Amalgamated Bank filed an application with the International Standards Organization (ISO) to create a merchant category code for firearm and ammunition sellers, arguing that this would curb deadly mass shootings. Although the application was rejected by the ISO, supporters of HB 221 feel that this bill is necessary to keep similar applications from being filed or approved in Florida.

“This bill ensures that no credit card company, bank or processor can designate any code that can track any types of these purchases,” Rep. Snyder said.

Democrat Rep. Angela “Angie” Nixon (D-Jacksonville) expressed concern that the bill could prevent mass shooters from being tracked. Rep. Snyder explained that merchant category codes don’t tell companies what was purchased at a shop, only the establishment that the purchases were made in. “These [codes] could create a false notion of security,” Rep. Snyder said. He went on to explain that if a shopper purchased a pair of sunglasses at a store that sells guns, if these codes were implemented, that person would get flagged or placed on a list that would indicate they had purchased a firearm, even though they hadn’t.

Rep. Nixon fired back, arguing that these codes would not infringe upon the rights of consumers. “A little stoppage as opposed to saving hundreds of lives – I feel like that’s a no-brainer,” she said.

Democrat representatives Joe Casello (D-Boynton Beach), David Silvers (D-Palm Beach) and Susan L. Valdes all opposed HB 221, siding with Rep. Nixon, citing similar concerns about stopping mass shootings.

HB 221 passed along party lines, and is headed to The Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee, followed by the Commerce Committee.