June 08, 2018

Feinstein, Schatz, Colleagues Call On Credit Card Companies To Stand Against Gun Violence

Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) led eight senators in calling on credit card companies and credit card processing companies to take a stand against gun violence by encouraging their clients to improve public safety and save lives.

            “While your industry has used the “lawful purchase” standard with regards to firearm sales, there is a growing consensus in the private sector that companies can and should take additional action to address the problem of gun violence in our country,” the senators wrote. “Your company’s leadership to address gun violence after Parkland, Santa Fe, and countless other tragedies will help save lives by reducing the prevalence of mass shootings in our country.”

            Along with Senators Feinstein and Schatz, the letter was also signed by Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). Senators Schatz and Feinstein sent a similar letter to financial institutions in May.

            The letter was sent to Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Barclays, First Data, Fiserv, Ayden, and Worldpay US. To read the full letter, click here.

            Text of the senators’ letter to MasterCard follows:

            Dear Mr. Banga:

            With 364 million open credit card accounts in the U.S. in 2017, credit card companies and credit card processers facilitate a significant portion of economic transactions made throughout our country every day, including the sale of firearms.  Given your company’s leading position in the financial sector, your industry can play an important role in establishing standards that foster safer firearm policies and prevent future mass shootings and tragedies in the communities you serve.  We write in support of corporate responsibility efforts by the financial services industry to adopt measures that encourage legal and safe purchase of firearms.

            On February 14, a 19-year-old individual used firearms he legally purchased to kill 17 students and educators at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  Just months after that tragedy, another teenage gunman claimed the lives of 10 people at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. 

            Gun violence is a growing epidemic in our nation.  Each year, nearly 125,000 Americans are shot by a firearm, including over 35,000 fatally.  Students in classrooms, families in cities, worshippers in churches, and countless other Americans across the country are victims of gun violence.  In response to these tragic shootings, many companies stepped forward to demonstrate leadership and corporate responsibility.  Some companies have taken the following steps to improve public safety by urging new and existing clients to:

  • Require background checks on all firearm sales, including intrastate online sales;
  • Raise the minimum age of firearm sales to 21;
  • Detect and prevent straw purchases; and
  • Prohibit the sale of high-capacity magazines, bump stocks, and assault-style weapons.

            Many prominent retailers that you currently service including Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods chose to put their deeply held values above short-term profits by enacting gun safety measures including raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 and restricting the sale of high-capacity magazines and assault-style weapons.

            Financial institutions are also reevaluating their portfolios and client businesses.  On March 22, 2018, Citibank announced that it would no longer lend to new clients that do not adhere to common sense firearm policies such as preventing teenagers from purchasing assault weapons.  On April 11, 2018, Bank of America announced that it would also stop lending to those who continue to manufacture “military-style firearms for civilian use.” 

            These companies made voluntary determinations that, for the public good, the use of their services should take into consideration the public’s safety related to firearm transactions.  Other companies are in the process of examining the way they process payments for firearms.  Some firms have chosen to make incremental steps including devoting additional resources to customer integrity units that detect straw purchases and flagging suspicious transactions for law enforcement.  Other firms are considering assigning particular customer codes to firearms dealers to better detect suspicious activity patterns.  Some firms have chosen to require all clients to perform background checks for firearm purchases made through non-federally licensed private sellers—as required in states like California, Illinois, and New York.

            While your industry has used the “lawful purchase” standard with regards to firearm sales, there is a growing consensus in the private sector that companies can and should take additional action to address the problem of gun violence in our country.  We appreciate your commitment to greater public safety for your customers, employees, and shareholders.  Your company’s leadership to address gun violence after Parkland, Santa Fe, and countless other tragedies will help save lives by reducing the prevalence of mass shootings in our country.

            We thank you for your attention to this issue and we welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with you to work to end gun violence.

Sincerely, 

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