We all have to do our part to stop gun violence and it sometimes starts with illegal purchases of guns and ammunition. The new code will allow us to fully comply with our duty to report suspicious activity and illegal gun sales to authorities without blocking or impeding legal gun sales. This action answers the call of millions of Americans who want safety from gun violence and we are proud to have led the broad coalition of advocates, shareholders, and elected officials that achieved this historic outcome.
(New York, NY; Washington, DC) September 9, 2022 – Amalgamated Bank announced that its application to the International Standards Organization for a new merchant category code (MCC) for gun and ammunition stores was approved. This code is the key to creating new tools that all financial institutions must now use to begin detecting and reporting suspicious activity associated with gun trafficking and mass shootings to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the government agency charged with safeguarding the financial system from illicit use.
“We all have to do our part to stop gun violence,” said Priscilla Sims Brown, President and CEO of Amalgamated Bank. “And it sometimes starts with illegal purchases of guns and ammunition. The new code will allow us to fully comply with our duty to report suspicious activity and illegal gun sales to authorities without blocking or impeding legal gun sales. This action answers the call of millions of Americans who want safety from gun violence and we are proud to have led the broad coalition of advocates, shareholders, and elected officials that achieved this historic outcome.”
Amalgamated Bank’s decision to advocate for the creation of the new merchant category code is the result of nearly three years of research and partnership with issue experts at Guns Down America and Giffords Law Center and broad support from elected officials, pension funds, and others across the United States.
"Everyone has a role to play in the fight against gun violence. The creation of new merchant category code for firearms is a major step forward that will help give law enforcement the tools they need to stop a tragedy before it happens. I'm grateful to the business leaders who stepped up and joined the fight to protect public safety -- here in New York and across the nation. Together we can stop gun trafficking and keep New Yorkers safe,” said New York Governor Kathy Hochul.
“Today’s decision requiring credit cards to categorize gun sales is a big victory that will help us better address gun violence and avoid tragedies. Labeling gun and ammunition sales is a responsible, common sense way to help protect Americans and I thank Amalgamated Bank for their bold leadership on this critical issue. I urge credit card companies to take the next step and flag suspicious transactions on gun and ammunition sales, like they do for fraud and money laundering. By working together and using the tools at our disposal, including this new categorization, we will help protect our communities and save lives,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.
“Keeping New Yorkers safe is my top priority — and that is why we are taking every possible step to dam the many rivers leading to the sea of gun violence,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “We are grateful that the International Standards Organization has heeded our call to create a new merchant category code for firearms and ammunition sales. This is a smart, commonsense measure that will track suspicious gun and ammunition sales — saving lives and making our city safer.”
“Stopping the scourge of gun violence will take action on the part of everyone, and I’m pleased that the ISO voted to advance a key step to prevent the next tragedy. American Express, Mastercard, Visa and other credit card companies now have a responsibility to implement the new merchant category code, so that financial institutions can do their part to flag suspicious activity and save lives. I am grateful to Amalgamated Bank and others who have advocated for years to make this a reality,” said New York City Comptroller Brad Lander.
"Today marks a historic step forward in the fight to end gun violence in our lifetime. I wholeheartedly applaud the creation of a new MCC for gun and ammunition retailers and am confident that with help from credit card companies, we have a new way to protect our communities through the tracking of suspicious transactions. I thank Amalgamated Bank for their steadfast leadership in presenting this application for a new MCC to the Committee, and thank the over 50 New York State legislators who joined me in calling for support of its creation. This will be a valuable tool against the scourge of gun violence and I look forward to seeing the universal implementation of this Merchant Categories Code,” said New York State Senator Zellnor Myrie.
“The epidemic of gun violence in America continues to worsen, and requires that we leave no stone unturned in seeking to save lives. We therefore commend Amalgamated Bank for its courageous leadership in demonstrating that the financial industry, too, has a part to play,” said Adam Skaggs, chief counsel and policy director, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Creating a dedicated merchant category code for gun sales is only the first step, though, and we look forward to working with Visa, Mastercard, and American Express to ensure swift efforts to ensure uniform and comprehensive use of this new code.”
“We are grateful that the financial sector has stopped stalling and finally understands the problem, which is that credit card purchases have consistently been involved in some of our nation’s worst mass shootings. Credit card companies have rules to stop fraud and human trafficking. This common-sense decision means the same rules will apply to guns, making it easier to stop illegal firearms-related activity,” said Igor Volsky, Founder and Executive Director of Guns Down America. “We will now work to make sure the credit card companies implement these new changes without delay.”
“We’re thankful to Amalgamated Bank for their leadership on establishing a merchant category code for firearms dealers. This small change to business practices will help identify illegal or suspicious activity to stop shootings before they happen and save lives. We call on financial institutions to work with us to institute these new changes," said Kris Brown, President of Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
"Throughout the past year, I have worked with the state legislature to end gun violence and this week, we moved one step closer to that goal. In response to multiple letters from my colleagues and me, financial institutions have agreed to start tracking gun-related purchases. For these companies, tracking credit card purchases is standard practice but in the past, an exception was made for guns: gun-related purchases were recorded as "miscellaneous” transactions and therefore it was never possible to tell what guns were bought by whom. Now, credit card companies will explicitly record gun-related purchases, and this data will help law enforcement to analyze suspicious spending patterns and prevent mass shootings before they can take place. This simple change made by credit card companies will help save lives," said Chantel Jackson, New York State Assembly Member.
As the first banking organization to endorse Everytown for Gun Safety’s principles, and the first to enact procedures to ensure that all commercial clients adhere to Everytown’s Gun Safety Codes of Conduct, Amalgamated Bank has been at the forefront of supporting gun violence prevention. In addition to not lending to or investing its own money in gun or ammunition manufacturers or distributors, Amalgamated Bank also offers impact investment portfolios that exclude investment in guns and ammunition.
About Amalgamated Bank
Amalgamated Bank (“Amalgamated” or the “Bank”), the wholly owned banking subsidiary of Amalgamated Financial Corp. (Nasdaq: AMAL), is a mission-driven New York-based full-service commercial bank and a chartered trust company with a combined network of six branches in New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Boston. Amalgamated Bank provides commercial banking and trust services nationally and offers a full range of products and services to both commercial and retail customers. Since our founding in 1923, Amalgamated Bank has served as America’s socially responsible bank, empowering organizations and individuals to advance positive social change. Amalgamated Bank advocates alongside those working to make the world more just, compassionate, and sustainable. Amalgamated Bank is the country’s largest B Corp® bank and a proud member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values. We don’t just have a mission, we are on a mission to advance economic, social, racial and environmental justice utilizing the tools of finance. For more information, please visit our website at www.amalgamatedbank.com.