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Credit Card Company Refuses To Process Gun Transactions For Gun Shop

Gun shop credit cards

Image source: LibertyCrier.com

A major credit card payment handler’s refusal to process transactions involving legal online gun sales is causing a stir among gun rights advocates.

The controversy started in September when Authorize.net, one of the nation’s major credit card “payment gateways”, ended its business relationship with the Hyatt Gun Shop in Charlotte, N.C., which bills itself as the nation’s largest gun store.

An email sent to Hyatt Gun Shop by Authorize.net explained that since Hyatt sells guns, it is a violation of Authorize.net’s “acceptable use guidelines.”

Justin Anderson, Hyatt’s marketing director, told a reporter for CreditCards.com that Authorize.net had been doing business with Hyatt for four years, and nothing about the relationship had changed.

“When we approached them to do business with us, the first thing we did was make sure we were completely clear about the nature of our business,” Anderson said. “We do sell guns, we do sell guns online, and, at the time, there were no problems.”

Credit card “payment gateways” like Authorize.net serve to encrypt credit card data and provide other services moments between when a card user clicks “Purchase” and then receives a confirmation. The gateways provide a critical service that ensures safety and privacy.

Among other things, Authorize.net’s “Terms of Use” prohibits transactions involving anything pornographic, obscene, “threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory,” or anything associated with illegal gambling, illicit drugs and “the sale of firearms.”

Anderson told CreditCards.com that it is unfair to lump legal gun sales in with illegal drugs and other outlawed substances – especially when the US Constitution protects the sale and purchase of guns.

“It blows my mind that a company like ours that is so heavily regulated would fall into a situation like this,” Anderson said. “A lot of gun businesses have been dropped by Authorize.net. They’ve been dropping people left and right.”

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The article notes that major credit card payment processors – Visa, American Express, Discover, MasterCard – are merely observers of the controversy and do not prohibit the use of their cards for legal firearms purchases.

But the article also points out that Visa owns Authorize.net and its parent company, Cybersource Corp., and has thus indirectly been drawn into the dust-up.

Hyatt is urging a boycott of all websites displaying the Authorize.net or Cybersource logo, a boycott that is being promoted by Grass Roots North Carolina, a gun rights group.

“It looks like the small but noisy anti-gun crowd has gotten to what must be a jelly-spined PR department at CyberSource and Authorize.net,” the group’s website says. “Either that, or leadership at these companies have simply become anti-gun all on their own. Whatever the cause, Authorize.Net is making it clear that businesses lawfully selling firearms are undesirable and need not apply.”

Spokespersons for Visa and its Authorize.net and CyberSource units did not respond to CreditCards.com’s requests for comment, deferring to an outside media relations specialist.

The spokesman told CreditCards.com he was allowed to say only this about Authorize.net: “Authorize.net is an e-commerce service provider and subsidiary of Visa. It maintains different risk policies from Visa because it offers different services.”

Anderson told CreditCards.com he doesn’t have any problems getting transactions cleared by the major credit card companies, and that once Hyatt switched payment gateways, there were no issues with Visa.

According to CreditCards.com, some believe politics is driving Authorize.net’s sudden change of policy on guns. An article in the Washington Examiner pointed the finger at Visa, noting its executives gave $21,780 to President Obama’s re-election campaign. But as CreditCards.com pointed out, Visa executives also contributed $22,375 to Mitt Romney’s election run.

Whatever the reason, CreditCards.com reports that as Authorize.net left gun shops in the lurch, other payment gateways stepped in. Among the most active is Payment Alliance International of Louisville, Ky., which has built relationships with the National Rifle Association and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Nathan Danus, vice president of national accounts for Payment Alliance, told CreditCards.com that the group is “helping federally licensed firearm dealers receive the fair and gun-friendly merchant services they deserve.”

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5 comments

  1. The good out of this is that it is now public knowledge, and I thank you for it. For a company to deny you this is also saying then that stand against the US Constitution, which is law and what this country in is based on. Therefore I will not support any agency that has policies that are hypocritical to the the constitution.

    • Authorize.net is operating in the background. If you really want to pull your support from them in particular, you’re going to have to ask retailers if they use Authorize.net, and if they do, then you’ll have to take your business elsewhere, especially if that retailer is selling tobacco products and alcoholic beverages. (See my follow-on comment below.)

  2. It is so typically hypocritical of liberals to oppose transactions involving gun sales but not sales of tobacco products or alcoholic beverages. Why does Authorize.net not also block transactions from stores that sell tobacco and booze? The CDC says that tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the U.S., with 443,000 deaths annually. The CDC says some 80,000 deaths each year are the result of excessive alcohol use. The numbers provided were straight forward and placed prominently in the CDC’s reports.

    But, when it came to deaths relating to firearms, you have to dig through many layers in a report that covers deaths from both firearms and motor vehicles. They report 33,687 motor vehicle deaths and 31,672 firearms deaths (11,078 being homicides, 19,392 being suicides, and the 1,202 being accidental deaths). Missing from the report are the millions of defensive uses of firearms, though the CDC does report that those who used a firearm to protect themselves from violent attacks fared much better than unarmed victims.

    • Well noted. So Alcohol & Tobacco combined result in more than 16 times the deaths by firearms. And the largest firearms group, suicide, can be accomplished by any number of means. Are deaths of criminals (by citizens & LEO) rolled into the homicide total or neglected?

  3. Victor E. Paterno, Jr

    I would prefer conceal rather than open carriers in situations like meetings or stores as that poor sole will be the first target. If there is a chance that anyone is carrying concealed and a permit is not too hard to get the bad guy don’t want to take the chance.

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