Walmart Shooter Purchased Gun Just Hours Before Killing, Authorities Say

The gunman who shot and killed six co-workers at a Walmart in Chesapeake, VA, earlier this week legally purchased the gun hours before the massacre. He also left what he titled a “death note” on his phone detailing grievances with various people in his life.

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Visa, Mastercard, AmEx To Categorize Gun Purchases Separately

Visa, Mastercard, and American Express will now categorize gun shop purchases separately. The change will help track any suspicious gun sale surge that may predate a mass shooting.

Banks use merchant category codes for purchases made by account holders, including recurring expenses such as groceries, dining and retail. Until Friday, gun purchases were considered “general merchandise.”

The IRS mandated the classification system in 2004 for tax reporting. Banks use these codes to flag potentially fraudulent activity. Merchants with high rates of disputes and fraud are given high-risk merchant codes. These merchants have to pay higher interchange fees. Banks also use these codes for credit card rewards and benefits.

Amalgamated Bank CEO Priscilla Sims Brown expressed support for this new change citing that “there are merchant codes for the hair salon and the shoeshine place and every other retailer; there’s no merchant code for gun stores.”

 “If we did have a merchant code for gun stores, we could detect patterns that would indicate that there had been something unusual going on.”

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The change followed the International Organization for Standardization’s decision to approve a gun purchase merchant code. The IOS is an amalgamation of 167 countries’ representatives that develop international standards for technical and non-technical fields. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland.

The new protocol is a significant win for gun control advocates, especially since Visa is the world’s largest payment processor. Mass shooters often use credit or debit cards to purchase weapons. The perpetrator of the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting that killed 49 people purchased guns worth $26,000 via credit card.

Mastercard provided a statement to Business Insider outlining its reasoning for implementing the change.

“We understand and appreciate the significant policy imperative in reducing gun violence and see the recent bipartisan action in Congress as a positive step. We believe it is that type of effort that will meaningfully address the tragic gun violence facing the country.”

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The National Rifle Association believes the move is “nothing more than a capitulation to anti-gun politicians and activists eroding the rights of law-abiding Americans one transaction at a time.”

Gun rights advocates argue that this measure would flag purchases that are not guns, such as accessories and gun safes at gun stores.

The gun control advocacy nonprofit Everytown found that there have been 279 mass shootings in the U.S. since 2009. There were 27 school shootings in 2022 alone. According to The Marshall Project, the U.S. had more mass shootings in the past five years than in any half-decade back to 1966.

gun control

July 4 Weekend Sees Droves Of Gun Violence And Deaths Across The U.S.

In what should have been a joyful Fourth of July weekend of celebrating independence, the U.S. endured multiple horrific events that have left further questions on the state of gun violence and gun control.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, the holiday period saw shootings in almost every state that amounted to at least 220 victims dead, with 550 others injured. Among the deadliest shootings was one that occured during a parade in Highland Park, Illinois.

That shooting saw several killed and 30 injured as a gunman rained fire from a rooftop in suburban Chicago, leaving hundreds of other participants in a frightened panic. The 21-year-old suspect, Robert E. Crimo III, later apprehended, considered a second shooting before opting otherwise.

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With some still remaining in critical condition, the death toll could see a further rise. A similar state of confusion and panic among on-goers was seen in Philadelphia, where two police officers were injured during a shooting near the city’s Museum of Art during a fireworks show.

While it was later discovered the officers were hit by falling bullets, making them unintended targets, it highlights the bloodshed as the Independence Day weekend helped to bring the U.S.’s total mass shootings in 2022 up to 320, along with over 22,000 gun violence deaths related to all causes. The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shootings as one that sees four or more victims, excluding the shooter, either wounded or killed.

Increased gun violence during the Fourth of July isn’t an abnormal occurrence, even during a time where mass shootings are ever frequent. Last year, 233 people were killed and 618 people were injured over the weekend, which was down 26% from 2020’s 314 fatal shootings and 751 injuries.

Responding to the Highland Park tragedy, President Joe Biden stated he and first lady Jill Biden were “shocked” by the incident that “has yet again brought grief to an American community on this Independence Day.”

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During his response, Biden expressed more needed to be done in order to curb gun violence and mass shootings, and referenced the June signing of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which will see $250 million invested into community violence intervention and $100 million into the National Criminal Instant Background Check System. In total, around $1.9 billion would be allocated to various services and strategies.

“I recently signed the first major bipartisan gun reform legislation in almost thirty years into law, which includes actions that will save lives. But there is much more work to do, and I’m not going to give up fighting the epidemic of gun violence.”

Even with his remarks and work, others on Capitol Hill have shown displeasure with the administration’s attempts. Though he supported it, Representative Mike Thompson (D-Cali.) said the bill didn’t go as far as “many of us would have liked.”

Meanwhile, former representative Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) said Biden’s administration should house a whole division for gun violence prevention. “Gun violence is the leading cause of death of children in this country and that is really horrific. If that is the case, why isn’t there a robust team of people working on that every day?” Giffords questioned.

The debate of whether the new bill would have helped to prevent the Highland Park shooting has also arisen, with congressional aides telling NBC News saying that the suspect would have passed an FBI check due to not having been previously charged or convicted, despite prior run-ins with authorities.

However, experts explained that because of the threefold check in the bill for those under 21, local law enforcement agencies would have been contacted, alerting authorities of the attempt that could have been stopped with the state’s “red flag” law.