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Amalgamated Bank: Advocates for gun violence prevention


29 December 2022

By implementing the International Standards Organisation new merchant category code (MCC), which allows reporting of suspicious activity and illegal gun sales to authorities, Amalgamated Bank represents boldness through their active advocacy for gun violence prevention in the banking industry.

Gun crime and shooting have been a long standing social issue in America. Amalgamated Bank, based in New York, has always recognised their forefront role in fighting against gun violence.

To prevent tragedy from happening, banks are responsible for the first step – stop the accessibility to the financial system to get hold of guns. Amalgamated Bank’s application to the International Standards Organization for a new merchant category code (MCC) for gun and ammunition stores was approved in September 2022.

This code is the key to creating new tools that all financial institutions must now use to begin detecting and reporting suspicious activity associated with gun trafficking and mass shootings to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the government agency charged with safeguarding the financial system from illicit use. In the same way that they have used an algorithm to track down fraud and human trafficking, it is applicable to spot and stop patterned purchases in firearms, flag suspicious transactions and report to the local authority.

Priscilla Sims Brown, President and CEO at Amalgamated Bank said:

“We all have to do our part to stop gun violence. As a bank, it is our rights and responsibility to report the use of the financial system to fuel black market gun sales and sales associated with mass shootings.”

Perseverance is the key

Amalgamated Bank’s decision to advocate for the creation of the new merchant category code (MCC) is the result of nearly three years of research and partnership with issue experts at Guns Down America and Giffords Law Center and broad support from elected officials, pension funds, and others across the United States.

In the past, gun-related purchases were recorded as “miscellaneous” transactions and there was no such stand-alone mercenary code for guns and ammunition stores. That makes tracking impossible to lead back to the buyers and merchants. Frustratingly, Amalgamated Bank had tried twice applying to MCC but with no success. Then September 2022, because of the banks’ perseverance, they finally got approval from the International Standards Organization.

Taking into account the banks’ unwavering commitment on not lending to firearms manufacturers or sellers, completely dis-associating with any businesses involved in gun sales, this application will further demonstrate their strength on being the first banking organization in the US to institute such an unflinching position.

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