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The Florida Senate takes aim at credit card merchant codes

Closeup of a woman holding several credit cards
Farknot Architect
/
stock.adobe.com
Four-digit codes are used to separate purchases and collect data from places such as grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants.

The Florida Senate on Thursday passed a measure that seeks to prevent credit-card companies from using a code that could help track firearm and ammunition sales.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 27-11 along almost-straight party lines to approve the bill (SB 214), sponsored by Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills. Sen. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, crossed party lines to vote for the bill.

The issue deals with the potential that credit-card companies could use a separate “merchant category code” for sales at firearms businesses. Similar four-digit codes are already used to separate purchases and collect data from places such as grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and bookstores.

“This bill is needed to protect consumers’ privacy and firearms rights and prevent the creation of a quasi-backdoor gun owners’ registry in Florida,” Burgess said.

But Sen. Victor Torres, an Orlando Democrat who is a retired New York transit-police detective, said it is important for law enforcement to be able to trace information about the purchases of guns and ammunition used in crimes. “When you have a paper trail, you have substance as to who got this and where they got this,” Torres said.

A House version of the bill (HB 221) has been approved by two subcommittees.

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