In February, George Gascón, the district attorney of Los Angeles County, asked Visa, Mastercard, and American Express to stop processing online purchases of ghost guns. “By your action, you can prevent a ghost gun from being sold over the internet with a few mere clicks on a smartphone or a computer,” the letters said. “It is to your company’s sense of right and wrong to which we now appeal.” Discussions with the card networks are ongoing, he said, though there has been no shift in policies from the networks on this issue so far.
Gascón said he is hopeful this will eventually change. “Good corporate citizenship can put a stop to bad businesses that would otherwise flourish because the law is always going to be inadequate to fully address the problem,” he said.
Darcel Clark, the Bronx district attorney, and Joyce Dudley, the DA of Santa Barbara, who are cochairs of the advocacy group Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, wrote a similar letter to Mastercard and Visa last month on behalf of more than 50 district attorneys from across the country who make up the organization.
Clark and Dudley say that Visa did not respond, and last week, Mastercard officials said in a call with the district attorneys that the company would not shut off the payments unless there was clear evidence of illegal activity.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Visa said it “requires each transaction processed over our network to be legal in both the buyer’s and seller’s jurisdictions. We do not tolerate the use of our network and products for illegal activity, and we are vigilant in our efforts to deter illegal activity on our network.”
A spokesperson for Mastercard said, “We believe that it is the responsibility of elected officials to enact meaningful policies to address the issue of gun violence, while it remains Mastercard’s role to ensure that consumers are permitted to make lawful purchases on our network.” It added that it’s working to ensure its products are not used to purchase these weapons in jurisdictions where they are not legal.
“American Express is committed to complying with all applicable laws and regulations related to the sale of firearms on our network, and requires all merchants who accept American Express cards to adhere to them,” the credit card company said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.