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May 1, 2024

Joint Release: SIGNED! Bill to Establish Merchant Codes for Firearms, Combat Gun Violence

Senate Bill 66 makes it easier to recognize dangerous firearm purchasing patterns

DENVER, CO – Today Governor Jared Polis signed legislation to combat gun violence by establishing a new code to categorize gun sales and help law enforcement recognize dangerous firearm purchasing patterns.

Sponsored by Senator Tom Sullivan, D-Centennial, and Representatives Javier Mabrey, D-Denver, and Meg Froelich, D-Englewood, SB24-066 requires payment card networks like Visa or Mastercard to provide a specific code, known as a merchant code, for businesses that sell firearms and ammunition. Merchant codes allow banks and credit card companies to recognize dangerous firearm purchasing patterns – like a domestic extremist building up an arsenal – and report them to law enforcement.

“In the weeks before my son Alex was killed in the Aurora Theater shooting, his killer purchased multiple firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition - and nobody batted an eye,” Sullivan said. “Credit cards have been repeatedly used to finance mass shootings, and merchant codes would have allowed the credit card companies to recognize his alarming pattern of behavior and refer it to law enforcement. This law will give us more tools to protect people, and make it easier to stop illegal firearms-related activity like straw purchases before disaster strikes.”

“Prior to the tragic Aurora movie theater shooting, the shooter had purchased over $11,000 worth of firearms, ammunition, and military gear in the weeks leading up to the shooting, ultimately killing 12 innocent Coloradans,” Froelich said. “Credit card merchant codes are an effective tool already used by law enforcement to combat human trafficking and money laundering crimes, and our law will expand this tool to help us stop gun violence before it impacts our communities. Our new law is crucial in giving law enforcement a head start in preventing gun violence so we can save Colorado lives."

“Credit cards have been used to finance many of the major mass shootings in recent years, and identifying suspicious weapon and ammunition stockpiling before a tragedy can take place will save lives," Mabrey said. "Almost every other product has a merchant code and this law creates a specific one for firearms. This information could be provided to law enforcement, and it could have a life-saving impact in our communities.”

A report found that this policy could have prevented many mass shootings, including the Aurora movie theater shooting and the Pulse Nightclub shooting. The Aurora movie theater shooter used a MasterCard to buy $11,000 worth of weapons and military gear at multiple stores in the six weeks before the shooting.

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