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Bill to protect the privacy of gun buyers passes Alabama Senate

On Tuesday, the Alabama Senate passed the gun owner financial privacy bill to establish privacy rights for gun buyers. The bipartisan bill was passed unanimously by the Alabama Senate. SB281 is sponsored by State Senator Tim Melson (R-Florence).

The legislation would prohibit a financial institution from declining a payment card transaction for a firearm purchase or purchases from retailers who sell guns. It also would prohibit a government agency from creating or maintaining a list or registry of privately owned firearms or owners of firearms. The bill provides for civil remedies for institutions who break this law if passed.

“This bill is a consumer protection bill,” said Sen. Melson. “What this does is, every merchant assigns a four-digit code – merchant category code. This prevents them from using this information to mark and keep up with gun purchases and ammunition purchases.”

“It does nothing to do with ATF as far as they still have to go through what they normally do when they purchase,” said Melson. “Several states have already enacted this. This was not an issue until they issued a separate code for these transactions.”

Melson asked that the Senate adopt a substitute version of the bill.

“The substitute takes out banking language and leaves just credit card language as we agreed to,” Melson said.

SB281 as substituted passed the Senate in a 32 to 0 vote.

House Bill 389 is the House companion bill to SB 281. HB389 will be addressed by the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m.

This bill is an important action item for the National Rifle Association (NRA).

“Contact members of the House Financial Services Committee and ask them to SUPPORT HB 389!” the NRA-ILA wrote to its members in an email on Tuesday evening. “SB 281 and HB 389 prohibit the use of firearm/ammunition specific merchant category codes by payment processors. This is an important protection for gun owners, protecting private purchasing information from abuse by third parties.”

“Collecting firearm retailer financial transaction data amounts to surveillance and registration of law-abiding gun owners,” the NRA-ILA continued.

“Those promoting this scheme are in favor of firearm and gun owner registrations. Therefore, it should be assumed that the goal of this program is to share all collected firearm retailer MCC data with government authorities and potentially private third parties that may include gun control organizations and anti-gun researchers.”

SB281 will now be transmitted to the House for their consideration. Wednesday is a committee day for lawmakers, and Thursday will be day 25 of the 2024 legislative session.

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