Governor Kay Ivey
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signing a measure to increase teacher pay on May 10. Credit: Alabama Governor's Office

Alabama Governor Signs Privacy Bill for Gun and Ammo Sales

Supporters say the law will eliminate concerns that merchants will collude with the government to take your guns.

Without comment, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a new law this week prohibiting merchants from assigning a merchant code to gun and ammo sales. In a statement, Lawrence Keane, the senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade group for the gun industry, said his organization helped lawmakers craft the Second Amendment Financial Privacy Act.

"Alabamians won't need to worry that 'woke' Wall Street banks, credit card companies and payment processors will collude with government entities to spy on their private finances for exercising their rights," Keane said.

In addition to eliminating merchant codes, which financial institutions use to track goods and services, the law also prohibits any list or registry of privately owned guns. "No American should fear being placed on a government watchlist simply for exercising their Constitutionally-protected rights to keep and bear arms," Keane added.

According to the NSSF, Alabama joins 14 other states that have already enacted such laws and bills are making their way through statehouses in two other states. On the flip side, the group said California and Colorado are the only states requiring that financial institutions track gun and ammo sales.

In March, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, was joined by 31 other lawmakers urging the Department of Treasury to provide guidance directing financial institutions to code gun and ammo sales, arguing that it would allow authorities to flag suspicious or fraudulent purchases. Before 2022, they said there were no merchant codes for gun and ammo sales despite coding for every other type of merchant.

The concept was reportedly proposed by financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin, who penned the book Too Big to Fail about the 2008 financial crisis. He argued that the market could better address gun violence issues like mass shootings after multiple failed attempts by Congress. However, groups like the NSSF argue that such plans lead to the targeting of pro-gun and conservative groups.

Alabama lawmakers filed the bill at the beginning of April and after multiple readings, it was delivered to the governor by the end of the month. Ivey signed it on May 7 and it was immediately enacted.