At a meeting this week, a subcommittee of the International Organization for Standardization approved what are known as “merchant category codes” for gun stores, the spokesperson said.
The decision by the Geneva-based nonprofit has long been called for by supporters of tougher gun control, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
This paves the way for banks that process payments for gun retailers to decide whether to assign new codes to distributors. This code helps the monitor track where an individual spends their money, but does not show the specific items purchased.
The code was requested by the Amalgamated Bank of New York, which calls itself a socially responsible lender and investor, to a Swiss agency known as ISO.
Amalgamated CEO Priscilla Sims Brown said in a statement that the code will allow financial institutions to use new tools to stop gun trafficking without interfering with legal gun sales. It said it would be able to detect and report suspicious activity related to shootings and mass shootings.
“This action answers the call of millions of Americans for safety from gun violence,” Brown said.
Some gun rights activists were concerned that the new code could lead to unauthorized surveillance.
This year’s shootings, which included the deaths of 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school, have added to America’s long-running debate over gun control.
Several major U.S. pension funds have filed shareholder resolutions calling on payment companies to intervene in the matter.
After the ISO decision was first reported by Reuters on Friday, many gun control activists and politicians called on payment companies to adopt the new code. Several people also cited news articles.
New York Attorney General Letitia James tweeted, “Credit card companies must take the next step and flag suspicious transactions involving the sale of guns and ammunition in the same manner as fraud and money laundering.” wrote.
“We are focused on ensuring proper controls are in place to meet our regulatory and fiduciary responsibilities and prevent illegal activity on our network,” the company said.