Activism

Domestic Violence Survivors Tell Visa and MasterCard: Don't Process Assault Weapons Sales

They're rallying in front of Visa headquarters for International Women's Day.

Photo Credit: M&R Glasgow / Flickr

In the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, companies ranging from Delta to Metlife to Hertz car rentals have dropped their rewards programs with the National Rifle Association. Now, women's advocacy organization UltraViolet wants credit card companies like MasterCard and Visa to join the cause by refusing to process transactions involving assault rifles like the AR-15, the weapon of choice for many mass shooters. 

UltraViolet's demand is based not only on their commitment to strengthening gun control but on something much more personal: their experience with domestic violence. 

“The vast majority of mass shooters have one thing in common: a history of domestic or dating violence, and the mere presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of murder fivefold,” said Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of UltraViolet, in a statement announcing the campaign. 

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"Companies like PayPal and Apple Pay have already banned the purchase of firearms for people using their services," Chaudhary continued. "If Congress continues to fail on implementing legislation that will curb gun violence, it is up to banks and credit card companies to take action."

As NPR reported in November 2017, "While perpetrators of domestic violence account for only about 10 percent of all gun violence, they accounted for 54 percent of mass shootings between 2009 and 2016," according to research from Everytown for Gun Safety. 

Seven hundred women have signed UltraViolet's open letter, which states:

Just like the Pulse nightclub and Sutherland Springs mass shooters and so many more, the 19-year-old who murdered 17 students and teachers in Parkland, Florida abused his ex-girlfriend and stalked another classmate.

These abusers are too easily able to obtain weapons of mass murder like the AR-15. We write to you because, while Congress and the president do nothing, there are specific steps your company can take to ban the sale of military-style assault rifles used in the deadliest mass shootings.

24 companies have cut ties with the most powerful opponent of gun control, the NRA. PayPal and Apple Pay already blocked purchases of any firearms using their services. So, why can't Visa, Mastercard, and other financial services companies ban purchases of assault weapons using their credit cards?

Organizers are not stopping at a letter. To further pressure Visa to stop processing assault rifle purchases, UltraViolet has planned a rally on March 8, International Women's Day, outside of Visa's Foster City, California headquarters. They'll be delivering the open letter as well as a petition with 100,000 signatures in support. 

Read the letter

Ilana Novick is an AlterNet contributing writer and production editor.