Union bank pushes for coding gun store purchases, despite 'pro-gun' union rank and file

Amalgamated Bank is "the same bank that refuses to do business to anyone in the gun industry but bankrolls the Democratic National Committee," according to The National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Published: September 20, 2022 6:27pm

Updated: September 21, 2022 6:03pm

A large union bank was behind the successful push to create a new merchant category code (MCC) for gun and ammunition stores, even though, according to Gun Owners of America, union members are usually "very pro-gun."

Amalgamated Bank, which works with more than 1,000 unions, submitted the application to the International Standards Organization (ISO) for a new MCC.

"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," according to the bank's website.

"We all have to do our part to stop gun violence," President and CEO of Amalgamated Bank, Priscilla Sims Brown, said in a statement. "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."

Erich Pratt, senior vice president of Gun Owners of America, told "Just the News, Not Noise" on Monday that he doubts that union members who are lawful gun owners have been made aware of Amalgamated Bank being behind the gun purchase tracking system.

"I hope this is something that the rank-and-file union members — who, typically, tend to be very pro-gun — that they hear about this," Pratt said.

The push "to use the banks as another way to enforce gun control" is "a real concern," he said.

Pratt fears that the reporting of loosely defined "suspicious purchases" is ripe for abuse.

"If you were to buy a gun, some ammunition for it and a safe, that could amount to $2,000 or more," he noted. "Does that become a suspicious activity where the bank says, 'No, we're not going to honor that request, we're canceling that request.'? This is really troublesome."

The drive for a separate MCC "was never about gathering data to aid law enforcement," claims an article posted by The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the national trade association for the firearms industry. "It is, and always has been, a concerted effort to pressure credit card companies to deny lawful purchases of firearms and put every single gun purchaser on a watchlist."

The bank's petition to the ISO was submitted after the organization had already "denied an identical petition last year," reports the NRA-ILA, the National Rifle Association's lobbying arm.

While the federal government is prohibited from creating a national registry for firearms, the new code "could provide a way for the government to outsource the creation of a registry that the government itself is prohibited from creating," the NRA-LA warns in a statement on its website. "If banks and payment processors share their records with the government, that would be a major step towards the registration of all gun owners in America."

Democrats such as New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York Attorney General Letitia James, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in addition to Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Guns Down America, all supported the petition.

Amalgamated Bank is "the same bank," according to the NSSF, "that that refuses to do business to anyone in the gun industry but bankrolls the Democratic National Committee and Political Action Committees including Biden-Harris Democrats, Ready for Hillary (which is Hillary Clinton's Super PAC), Sen Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) Warren Democrats and U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) PAC, among others." 

Founded in 1923, Amalgamated Bank "has served as America's socially responsible bank, empowering organizations and individuals to advance positive social change," according to its website.

The bank declares its mission is "to advance economic, social, racial and environmental justice utilizing the tools of finance."

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