Senator Elizabeth Warren issued a bizarre statement on social media Tuesday where she demanded America’s “credit card companies” help prevent “mass shootings” by reporting suspicious purchases.
“Credit card companies like @Visa, @Mastercard, and @AmericanExpress can and should do more to help stop mass shootings. @RepDean and I are urging these companies to step up and help identify suspicious purchases to prevent gun violence,” posted Warren on Twitter.
Warren drafted a letter issuing similar demands earlier this week.
Read an excerpt from the letter below:
September 1, 2022
We write to urge American Express to support the creation of a new merchant category code (MCC) for gun and ammunition retail outlets, and to seek answers to reports that the company has obstructed efforts to create such a category, which would be an important step towards ending financial system support for gun trafficking, gun violence, and domestic terrorism.
Since 2009, the United States has suffered 279 mass shootings causing 1,576 deaths.1 The shooters in at least five major mass shootings between 2007 and 2020 financed their massacres using credit cards.2 The shooter who killed 12 people at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater in 2012 charged $11,000 worth of guns, ammunition, and body armor to a Mastercard issued by USAA.3 A few years later, in 2017, the killer who massacred 60 people on the Las Vegas strip used credit cards to purchase guns and ammunition totaling nearly $95,000 in the 12 months preceding his attack.4 In Orlando, the Pulse nightclub shooter racked up more than $26,000 in credit card charges on guns and ammunition in the twelve days ahead of his killing spree that killed 49 people and wounded 53.5 Before he did so, however, the shooter ran several online searches to determine whether his “unusual spending” would be flagged by credit card companies and reported to police.6 It was not.
In 2018, the Wall Street Journal explored how banks and credit card companies could help law enforcement preempt some mass shootings by identifying suspicious gun purchases through the implementation of a new MCC.7 MCCs are four-digit codes maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) that classify merchants by their purpose of business.8