Firearm purchases made with a credit card may soon be easier to track after an international body created a specialized code that registers the sales.
For Democratic officials who have sought to stem the tide of gun violence and gun trafficking in New York, the move is being hailed as a way to halt mass shootings and illegal purchases. But supporters of gun rights and gun dealers themselves worry about the impact it will have on their rights and their business.
New York officials, including Attorney General Letitia James and dozens of state lawmakers, have pushed credit card firms to designate a special code for gun buys following a spate of mass shootings, including at a supermarket in Buffalo and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
"It really is an early notification system for the worst crimes involving guns that we've witnessed in recent years," said state Sen. Brad Hoylman. "Some of these mass shooters don't ever expect to repay the purchase of ammo or gun purchases because they have a death wish."
The change would not affect gun owners who follow the law, but instead could be used by authorities to prevent another tragedy involving a firearm, Hoylman said.
"It is a message to those who would wish to perpatrate harm through a mass shooting that they're going to be noticed and federal and state authorities will be notified," Hoylman said.
New York lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul in recent months have successfully approved new gun laws, including a measure raising the age to possess a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21 and an exapnsion of the state's "red flag" law that is meant to keep guns away from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.
Tracking credit purchases, however, requires action from the private sector. And gun dealers and supporters of gun rights view the push to monitor purchases far differently.
"I do think it's going to affect us because people will be reluctant to use their credit cards; people will be afraid of what's happening," said Greg Serafini, the owner of Upstate Guns and Ammo.
The change could mean more cash transactions for his business, creating a potential hazard when transporting more money, he said. Serafini has not ruled out expanding purchase options to include cryptocurrency.
"Any business that deals with cash on a regular basis has to safely transport that money," he said. "And with the governor's new restrictions on where you can carry a firearm that creates one hell of an issue for everybody because where do you go? How do you transport that money? How do you do it safely?"
Tracking gun and ammo buys will demonize people who are following the law, Serafini said.
"They earn their money in a legal manner and how they choose to spend it is their business," he said. "My rights are nobody's business."