Legal Issues

Is the Government Creating Backdoor Gun Registries?

Omar " Crispy 11B" Avila holding an AR-15 pistol with a stabilizing brace attached to his arm.

In 1986, the Firearm Owners Protection Act was passed. A key part of the legislation prohibited the federal government from centralizing (most) firearm records into a registry and tracking firearm ownership. Now, 35+ years later, banks and processors are doing what the federal government was intentionally prohibited from doing — tracking your firearm purchases.

Last week, the International Organization for Standardization announced it was creating a new merchant category code (MCC) to track purchases from businesses that sell firearms and ammunition. If you have at least one credit card, you have likely received offers from the issuer offering cash back for gas, grocery, or dining purchases. They do this by using MCCs.

International Organization for Standardization logo
You may not know the ISO, but it knows you — and your purchase history, which it intends to share in a database with the government.

However, the decision to create an MCC for purchases of firearms and ammunition is unlikely to have been because the big banks want to give you cash-back incentives. In fact, the very same credit card companies and banks have targeted firearms retailers and manufacturers, refusing them loans and closing processing terminals and bank accounts due to their chosen industry.

According to the International Organization for Standardization, the change is an effort to reduce gun violence.

Its logic goes something like this…

According to an ABC News report:

The gunman in Aurora, Colorado, who killed 12 people in a mass shooting at a movie theater in 2012, legally acquired his firearms and ammunition using a credit card. The shooter in the 2016 Orlando, Florida, nightclub shootings legally purchased his firearm and ammunition using a credit card. In 2017, after the shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, that left 58 dead, police found the shooter’s credit cards on the countertop in the shooter’s hotel room.

Do you see how simple it is? Credit cards are the missing link to preventing gun violence! I mean, in Las Vegas the guy actually had credit cards — in his room. Not locked away or anything! He just left them unsecured…on a countertop!

I do not know what else to say. These people are among us and have the right to vote…

The move by the International Organization for Standardization and others was prompted by calls from gun reform advocates and lawmakers who want credit card companies and banks to track and report “unusual” purchase activity related to firearms and ammunition. I’m sorry, what is unusual?

If I bought 5,000 rounds of .22LR for a youth shooting camp, is that unusual? If I decided to buy the ammunition for myself because I got a deal, is that suspicious? Should I expect a SWAT team to come knocking at my door? Will the FBI’s HRT or the AFT raid my house because some knucklehead at a credit card company or bank sees a $500,000 firearm purchase (for a Single Action Army revolver that was once owned by Bob Dalton and was recovered on his body after being killed in the Coffeyville raid)?

Several containers of .22 LR ammunition
Just a box or would I have to but the whole Bucket O’ Bullets to earn being reported to the ATF as suspicious? And what government resources are going to be squandered over a legal ammunition purchase?

Okay, maybe that one is a bit farfetched and would be suspicious. There is no way I am likely to ever have that kind of money. However, my point is, what is the criteria to be considered suspicious? Dollar amount? Frequency? Political party affiliation? Race? Gender? The opinion of someone contracted from Silicon Valley or its artificial intelligence?

What’s next? Can we prevent the next drunk driving tragedy by tracking alcohol purchases using a credit card? What about reducing the divorce rate and children raised by single parents by tracking credit card transactions at wedding chapels in Las Vegas? While I believe you could get 100 out of 100 random people to agree those ideas are ludicrous, gun control advocates are trying to sell the American people on the idea that tracking credit card purchases of 100% legal transactions, from people who have passed an ATF background check, will reduce gun violence (so long as no one leaves their credit card unattended in a hotel room).

Newsflash! The government already knows when you purchase a firearm — with a credit card or cash! They have a form called a Firearms Transaction Record (Form 4473)! Being anti-gunners, I get that they have no clue that these magic pieces of paper exist, but come on… It’s called the internet, people!

More seriously, (now that I have had a chance to vent a little), the points I am making do have a purpose. The government already has the means to vet the purchaser of firearms, and the ammunition has little value without the firearm. Sooo… what is the purpose of the new MCC?

The government already runs background checks. That is the Form 4473. However, the government is legally forbidden from saving the records of the 4473 checks. This prevents the government from creating ownership registries that could be used by the government against the citizenry later.

ATF Form 4473
After a background check, what information is the government gleaning to stop a crime? None. The author would submit this is nothing but a backdoor attempt at creating a database of gun owners.

The merchant codes create the list, by the International Organization for Standardization’s own words, for the government (law enforcement) to use. The transaction history gives the government the very database that the law specifically prohibits the government from creating. It does it under the guise of “magically” using legal transactions to prevent future unlawful acts, such as mass murder.

Am I the only one concerned? Sadly, this is not the only firearms registry in the works. The pending ATF ruling on pistol braces could have the same effect.

Amnesty or tax stamps for pistol brace owners?

On June 10, 2021, in the Federal Register, the ATF published the proposed rule, “Factoring Criteria for Firearms With Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces,'” 86 Fed. Reg. 30,826. The proposed rule provided for a 90-day public comment period, during which the agency received 211,564 comments. The agency has since processed the comments and is in the process of drafting the final ruling. This final ruling will include prepared rebuttal to the comments. The agency currently expects to publish a final rule in December 2022.

The ATF estimates that between 3 million and 7 million pistol braces were sold since 2012. The Congressional Research Service’s estimates range from 10 million to as high as 40 million braces were “either purchased as accessories or already attached to firearms that were made at home or the factory.”

SB Tactical AR Pistol Brace
How would a database full of Form 1 applications prevent a future tragedy?

The ATF previously ruled, and later affirmed, that the addition of a pistol brace did not constitute a classification as a short-barreled rifle (SBR). Now, after thousands, possibly millions, of gun owners have purchased and employed pistol braces, changes in the “politics” at the ATF are set to reverse the earlier rulings and reclassify the firearms as short-barreled rifles.

According to National Gun Trusts, there are several ways gun owners could achieve compliance:

  • Permanently remove or alter the “stabilizing brace” such that it cannot be reattached, thus converting the firearm back to its original pistol configuration (as long as it was originally configured without a stock and as a pistol) and thereby removing it from regulation as a “firearm” under the NFA. Exercising this option would mean the pistol would no longer be “equipped with” the stabilizing brace within the meaning of the proposed rule.
  • Remove the short barrel and attach a 16-inch or longer barrel to the firearm, thus removing it from the provisions of the NFA.
  • Destroy the firearm. The ATF will publish information regarding proper destruction on its website, www.atf.gov.
  • Surrender the firearm to your local ATF office.
  • Complete and submit an Application to Make and Register a Firearm, ATF Form 1 (“Form 1”). As part of the submission, the $200 tax stamp payment is required with the application. Pursuant to 27 CFR 479.102, the name, city, and state of the maker of the firearm must be properly marked on the firearm. All other markings, placed by the original manufacturer, should be adopted. Proof of submission of the Form 1 should be maintained by all possessors. Documentation establishing submission of Form 1 includes, but is not limited to, eForm submission acknowledgement, proof of payment, or copy of Form 1 submission with postmark documentation.

The new proposed ruling does present some additional problems for gun owners and the ATF. The first would be compliance and enforcement. Currently, electronic Form 1 submissions are taking 200+ days to be processed, and paper submissions are in the 400-day range. Consider that last year, the ATF received about 600,000 Form 1 applications. What would a deluge of 3 million (low estimate) additional applications do to the system? It could mean limbo for gun owners and a nightmare for the ATF.

There is also a rumor that the ATF may offer amnesty and grandfather units already in possession. However, the ATF would require the owners to register the details of the firearm, owner, etc. but forego the $200 fee and approval processing. This would again create a firearm registry of sorts. At a minimum, it would put a lot of gun owners into a database or make them criminals. New braces would be manufactured with a date code, similar to some polymer magazines, that would identify units manufactured and sold after the grandfather date.

Do you believe the new credit card codes and the new proposed rules regarding pistol braces are backdoor gun registries? Will 3 million Form 1 applications that would take months, likely years, to process reduce gun violence? Share your answers in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (44)

  1. CC companies may be restricted from implementing the code. good info from Guns and Gadgets and Langley Outdoor academy on you tube.

  2. Can Sporting Goods store classify gun and ammunition as something else on their credit card purchases. The Dems redefine other words like “recession “. I can see myself buying 500 cricket’s online

  3. In Texas a State Law, the Firearms Industry Nondiscrimination (FIND) Act provides that it shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person to refuse to provide any goods or services of any kind, or to terminate an existing business relationship with, or otherwise discriminate against an individual or trade association, solely because the business or individual is engaged in the lawful commerce of firearms or ammunition products.

    Other states may have or may inact similar laws. A suit under one of these laws might give the Supreme Court opportunity to eliminate these regulations, which are not laws, because they come against actual regulations that are on the books.

  4. Vendors keep records on every transaction and internet transactions stay out there. Heck most of them send you digital receipts further documenting your purchase. If pressured they will likely release that information. The only way to truly maintain your privacy on, anything, is cash in person. That won’t work on new firearms sales and if the government has it’s way cash will be replaced by some form of e-currency and then every purchase will be tracked.

  5. People must not watch the news, what you’ll do not understand they are going to depopulate humans any way so you might as well use the 2nd amendment for which is was put in the constitution for and if you have children then you have no choice.This is about The Great Reset and One World Order.

  6. So many corporations going ‘woke’. It’s scary as hell. The worst thing is that it’s global. Many 4 letter acronyms run by power hungry despots, of which many of our own politicians and rich and influential are members. New world order anyone?

  7. I know plenty of democrats who own guns. I would consider a few of them liberals. They own guns for the same reason anyone else does.

  8. The 4473 provides all the info the Govt. needs concerning firearms purchasing. They’re only making things more difficult on the law abiding citizen who wants to exercise his right to defend himself or the recreational shooter from getting products for the sport. Mentally unstable/evil people will still find ways to get whatever they want to do their deeds no matter what the Govt puts restrictions on. Makes zero sense

  9. A few years ago a subject walked in to a gun store in Independence, Mo. to buy a gun. On the 4473 form he checked the box yes, when asked if he had ever been convicted of a felony.
    That should have prevented the sale of a gun, correct. The store ran a background check, and he passed. No idea as to why, but I suspect it was an oversight somewhere.
    Long story short, a few weeks (possibly days) later, Kansas City Police went to a local motel to arrest this guy. A shootout ensued and two officers were severely wounded, and the suspect died.
    Last I heard, the officers were suing the gun store for gross negligence. But the ATF has already shut down the store.

  10. when 911 happened i was living in Michigan and listing to a talk show on the radio while at work and the subject was the invasion and the flying jets in to the twin towers one people were talking a bought some one invading our and i rember one caller in particular said with the state Michigan sells 350 thousand deer licenses that makes Michigan the 3rd largest army in the world and that doesn’t count the rest of of the states American politicians the government know we will never give up our guns

    jim

  11. This has Zero to do with Reducing Violence using a Firearm, and Everything to do with Creating a List of People Who Will be Persecuted After the Left Finally Takes Over!

  12. In addition to creating a database of gun owners, the new MCC can be used to charge additional fees and otherwise target businesses in the firearms trade. It is an attempt by corporate America to end-run constitutional protections.

  13. I absolutely believe they’re trying to set up a firearms registry. Once they have a firearms registry, banning and confiscating firearms will be easy. All they have to do is make every interaction with the government contingent upon surrendering your firearms. Want to register your car? Surrender your firearms. Want to renew your driver’s license? Surrender your firearms. Want to get your social security check? Surrender your firearms. Not many of us could withstand that level of bureaucratic harassment, and all the attendant criminal penalties and fines.

  14. ISO is an International Organization whose members do not take an oath to defend the US Constitution.

    This is part of a Conspiracy to commit Civil Rights violations by inhibiting Americans from executing their Constitutional Rights.

    On the bright side, guns in the USA outnumber people.
    – If guns were evil, we’d all be dead.

    First purchases of a firearm may mostly be with credit card and they already have Government paperwork, so not big deal here.
    – Resales of used guns, except through FFLs which require paperwork already, are mostly with cash.
    – In my State the only paperwork on a personal sale that is required (by me, not the State) are Hundreds, Twenties, and Tens.

  15. The National Association for Gun Rights is a good organization. If you are looking for a group that fights to protect our 2nd amendment rights, you should check them out.

  16. A further Suggestion is to buy bitcoin,Gold or silver and then trade that at market value to you local mom and pop gun store. Credit card companies stay in the dark and mom & pop get paid in something worth more in value then our paper money is gonna be worth the way they print it !

  17. I can’t find anywhere the date that these credit card codes will by implemented. I’d like one more big onliine purchase of ammo before i’m forced to buy cash for all ammo transactions. If I can get one more big purchase if I knew the start date of these policies.

  18. I have had several websites I set up myself that had offered both credit card and ACH/Checking Acct payments. The ACH payments online are just like the cards, are quick (days, not weeks), don’t require the 3-4% credit card charges (your unknown partners) so guns and ammo business could avoid both this backdoor attempt to register firearms owners and net more money from the sale. My websites were for people to pay rent and the tenants all used it because it was convenient…and far, far cheaper than a credit card. Had zero bounces. Don’t know why the gun websites don’t offer this as a way to buy guns and ammo…..Worst case is, you hold for a few more days before shipping…….my guess is they would have to work to do this and they are basically lazy…and will die on this hill for stupidity. The same guys you are paying for processing the credit cards you accept are the same guys that offer ACH or can set it up for little to no charge…….

  19. What about California? They have gun registry which is openly known. In fact I think it is a crime to own a gun not registered. Why doesn’t NRA or some other group challange this law?

  20. Take this one step further, what happens when the fed looks at credit card MCCs to determine that you will not receive medical attention from medicare-medicaid when they find out you drink too much or smoke or eat too much. A history already exists. AI just keeps getting more and more specific.

  21. I am sure all nation governments want these lists, especially with the UN trying to get nations to end gun ownership.

    The question I have after reading about this issue on multiple places, what can be done to try & stop it? will there be a lawsuit to make sure it’s not given to the government for a list as the Firearms owners protection act requires? Do people need to contact CC companies to let them know how people feel? Cancel Credit cards? I keep seeing Visa, Mastercard & Amex listed, is Discover part of it too?
    Guess people will start using cash more often for their purchases, but it will hurt places like here with online orders if they can show the companies will give it to the governments.
    They are finding every possible loophole to try to track honest, law-abiding citizens in one of our rights and destroy it.

  22. We need new transaction categories for alcohol, drugs, abortion pills, automobiles, knives, baseball bats and anything else that might be used to injure or kill another living being. Note to self….watch Minority Report tonight.

  23. Are there any credit card companies that will NOT be using this new firearms / ammo purchase code. ? IF so I, need to get such. and scrap ALL the others. JUST FOR G. P. To hit the financial businesses in the pocket book is the only real langrage they will understand. Fighting the ” BIG LIE ” is both interesting and boring AND CONSTANT. Lue Dee Kriss SASS # 5422 U S Army ( ret.)

  24. I for one will pay by cash for both ammo and firearms, when CC companies see their money dwindling they might just stop this stupidity 🔫😜

  25. It is naive to think that most purchases are not recorded and tracked, and they have been for decades. This has been done by merchants to follow trends and promote sales and by others for more nefarious reasons, like all technology it can be used for good or evil. I assume the powers that be have access, even from vendors that may disagree with their intent, to every non-cash sale made. Particularly sporting goods and ammunition sales. With the recent bills to support digital currency the current administration and likely all government, seeks to improve their situational awareness by limiting cash transactions. Privacy is an illusion and has been for some time. One hopes this level of control will be used for good, at least one old man doubts it.

  26. Why of course, this recent addition of the “merchant category code” by the ISO is without any doubt just another “end run” way of the government tracking legal purchases of guns and ammo, made by LEGAL ABIDING CITIZENS. All I can hope for is that the American public get out on Election Day in November and vote these phony, crooked, Marxist cronies out of public office.

    As for me, I like my guns same as DEMOCRATS like their voters UNDOCUMENTED !

  27. Timely article, I’ve already made the decision to stop buying firearms and ammo with cc’s. The banks have shown they are willing to de-bank people who’s politics/esg scores are not to their liking. I guess that means I can’t buy anymore from this business. Oh well, some online gun sellers offer cash discounts they’ll get ALL my future business.

  28. Great article, In the past year I bought 2pistols & thousands of rounds of ammo plus bullet tips for reloading all of which were CC purchases! Could be trouble according to the new registry?

  29. This is ANOTHER Way the Marxist Left Dems RINO’s Go Around the Second Amendment And Use their Public / Private, U.N. partnership to scurf the Federal Laws! These Marxist WILL NEVER GIVE IN or UP from Removing All firearms From private citizens Ownership!

  30. This is a clear and present danger to the destruction of the United States Constitution! We must all become activist and find groups we trust to donate our money to and hire quality attorney firms to help fight this communist style attack. The NRA HAS BECOME UNTRUSTWORTHY AND TOP HEAVY !!! We need a more grass roots accessible organization to help us fight !!!!

  31. Abolish the ATF and FBI. ATF is unconditional infringing our 2nd amendment right. FBI are the government thugs to carry out their dirty work. None of their business what I purchase legally.

  32. Hopefully some organization or person will sue the ISO/credit card companies to stop this intrusive act. The online sellers could help us out by allowing us to use electronic checks or other avenues to bypass the credit card companies.

  33. Very thoughtful article and not one full of hyperbole. The interesting thing I’ve learned is that the ATF and Bank people in the trenches don’t care about all this stuff and for the most part see it as just something to make more work for them. Those 4473’s Dave mentioned are stored at the gun store and can be destroyed after 20 years. BUT if the FFL licensee goes out of business he/she must surrender all of their 4473s to the ATF where they will be placed in storage at a huge West Virginia warehouse. That warehouse has a scanner and when the documents are brought in, they are scanned and entered into a database. Supposedly, the only reason is so they can perform a trace in the instance of a gun used in a crime, but who knows what other reasons they may try to use the data. The ONLY way we’re going to get out of this government control mess is to elect a Republican president and an overwhelming Republican majority in the House and Senate and push them to repeal and or replace all the laws that have been put in place regarding firearms in the past sixty years or so.

  34. This article you published is very necessary information to get out to people at this time. The politics surrounding the gun confiscation mentality is definitely extremely escalated over any time in my lifetime. The verbal assault and actions taken against the National Rifle Association are intended to undermine our protections.
    Without a doubt, this is a future weapons round-up in the making.
    Why is it that the IRS has amassed a huge gun and ammo cache and where is it kept?
    The Democrat’s are continuing and have no intention of stopping their moving toward removing ALL guns from the citizens of this country. The IRS is now able to arm it’s own militia. Won’t be long and they will have armored vehicles and communication equipment and raids will begin. The data base they are developing will simplify who and when they will target normal citizens right after they enact laws telling you that you must hand over all your weapons. Your rights are being subverted right before your very eyes as we speak. Not recognizing the problems on the Southern border and allowing free passage across should be understood as you are being completely marginalized and your voice means very little. People better wake up.

  35. I believe that what the ATF and the credit card industries are doing is a load of BS. What give them the right, to track my purchases of legal and law abiding past times. All the rules and regulations are doing are hurting and hindering law abiding people. The government is not addressing the root cause of the problem they are only addressing a symptom.

  36. The liberal government likes to dabble in the commercial industries. That being said, what’s to stop the liberal government from telling the commercial industries to stop producing ammunition, weapons, and other related items? Remember, you’ll be driving an electric car (whether you like it or not) in the near future. The government hires the smartest people to think up ways to defeat the average citizen. God help us.

  37. We the people already have “their” list.
    Information on elected, public officials and others of “their” voting and actions are on record and for public consumption and view.

    Time to watch “them” closer than ever before.

    As the Rule states:
    Do unto others as others have done unto you

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