The Latest Operation Choke Point — Paused

Odd Stuffing
4 min readMar 12, 2023

You may have heard about credit card companies adding a new merchant category code (MCC) specifically for “gun stores”. This was advertised as being all about ‘public safety’ by allowing credit card companies to flag suspicions purchases and report them to law enforcement, thereby preventing mass shootings. This is an outright lie and not even close to the actual purpose — to deny credit card purchases at firearms retailers.

Let’s be crystal clear about what this is. It is NOT an attempt to create a firearm registry or flag suspicious purchases. It IS nothing more than a new version of Operation Choke Point, this time targeting the ability of consumers to make purchases at gun stores.

For those that don’t remember, the original Operation Choke Point was the 2013 US Department of Justice program to ‘investigate’ banks who work with businesses such as firearms and ammunition dealers, businesses the DOJ claimed to be a high risk for fraud and money laundering. In reality, the goal was to intimidate financial institutions into cutting off banking services to these businesses, effectively closing them down. It ended in 2017 after multiple lawsuits and promises the DOJ would no longer issue informal and unwritten “suggestions” to banks, the mechanism used to coerce them.

The new gun store MCC was issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The ISO’s decision followed years of pressure from gun-control activist financial institutions such as Amalgamated Bank, gun-control lobbyists, and extreme left politicians to create the gun store specific code. US credit card processors, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, etc. would then implement them across their systems.

Following the creation and planned implementation of the new MCC, Second Amendment supporters pointed out this could be used as a backdoor firearm registration system. Only due to the threated legal action of 24 red-state Attorneys General has the implementation plan by Visa, MasterCard and Discover been paused. American Express has not commented yet.

IF the intention was to track purchases made at a firearm retailer/Federal Firearms License (FFL), the credit card industry and gun-control zealots already had a way to do this. A quick trip to the ATFE (Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives) website allows you to download the complete current list of every FFL in the country in .xlsx, .txt or .pdf format. Even someone with prehistoric programming skills like me could write a program to flag sales from any firearm retailer in real time in about 15 minutes.

Side note: How many industries do you know where the entire list of retailers is available to everyone with only a click required to download it?

Keep in mind credit card companies ONLY get a total amount submitted to them for approval. They do not have access to item, or SKU (stock keeping unit) level information. Therefore, a $10,000 purchase at someplace like Bass Pro could be a bunch of firearms and ammunition or a fishing boat and trailer. The credit card company, or any government entity, has no way of knowing.

The true intent behind the new MCC is to allow your local bank, the people you get your Visa, etc. branded credit card from, the ability to deny your purchases from gun stores. They can, at their own discretion, implement a policy that says, ‘we don’t want to conduct business with the gun industry’ and not allow transactions at retailers as identified by this MCC.

The new MCC would be much less of a burden for large retailers such as Bass Pro/Cabela’s, Walmart, etc. who already have multiple MCC’s for different areas of their stores. Therefore, denying purchases from the gun store MCC would only stop purchase in the firearms area of the store. What the gun store MCC can do is stop smaller firearm retailers from making any sales because they most often use a single credit card processor for all sales, firearms and non-firearm related.

The rollout pause by the credit card processers is hardly the final word on the topic. Just as the 24 red-state Attorneys General have threated legal action if the new MCC is implemented in their state, you can be sure the blue-states will threaten legal action if they are NOT implemented. It’s possible a decisive action by Congress could put this to rest once in for all, however decisive action isn’t something we can expect from a RINO lead Congress.

As if this isn’t bad enough, ponder what happens with the U.S. Digital Dollar currently being tested by the New York Federal Reserve Bank and several other major banks. This allows the introduction of “programmable” money. In the simplest terms, programable money can have built-in rules and constraints. With these rules, money can be programmed to have an expiration date or be restricted for certain goods. Instead of being able to spend your money on anything you like, you can only spend it on approved items at approved retailers. With programmable money you can control what people eat, what they read, where they travel and who they associate with.

No, this isn’t a sci-fi alternative reality, it is being tested today. And it should terrify the living crap out of you.

Your local bank is the current battleground for your Second Amendment rights. Gun-control zealots have long pressured financial institutions into not working with firearms industry, from the largest manufacturers to your local mom-and-pop shop. Ask any firearm related business how difficult it is to get bank accounts or credit card processing in many areas of the country. The gun shop MCC is simply another attack on the ability of consumers to buy firearms.

Still think it doesn’t matter who you vote for?

Bob

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Odd Stuffing

A weekly commentary on the issues, events and people impacting the Second Amendment community, the state, nation and world.