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Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Mastercard claims profits from illegal “ghost gun” sales is “ordinary business”

Asks regulators to block effort on behalf of RI pensioners to stop Mastercard from facilitating sales

Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner today responded to a request by Mastercard (NYSE: MA) to block his shareholder proposal, which calls on the company’s Board of Directors to address the processing of payments for the sale and purchase of untraceable firearms known as “ghost guns.”  

Mastercard has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for permission to block Treasurer Magaziner’s proposal from appearing on a ballot for shareholders to consider, incorrectly stating that the issue “deals with matters related to the Company’s ordinary business operations.”  

“By attempting to block our proposal from even receiving a vote, Mastercard is choosing to protect profits over lives,” said General Treasurer Seth Magaziner.

“Sellers of ‘ghost gun’ kits advertise that their products can be sold with no serial number, records, or background check, making them nearly impossible for law enforcement to trace. What Mastercard calls ‘ordinary business’ enables criminals to obtain untraceable firearms over the internet and contributes to the tragedy of gun violence in Rhode Island and around the country.”  

Ghost guns are increasingly used during violent crime and routinely seized from individuals who are prohibited by law from possessing firearms. 

When made for personal use, ghost guns are not required to have a serial number, making it difficult for law enforcement to determine where, by whom, or when they were manufactured, and to whom they were sold or otherwise distributed. 

Mastercard continues to process transactions by known sellers of ghost guns despite taking action to forbid the sale of other dangerous products and services on its platform.  

From January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2020, approximately 23,906 suspected ghost guns were reported to the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as having been recovered by law enforcement from crime scenes, including 325 homicides or attempted homicides, a number which tragically includes students who were killed during mass school shootings.  

Despite Rhode Island passing legislation banning undetectable and untraceable firearms in June 2020, multiple ghost guns have been recovered by local law enforcement, including from the scene of a gang-related shooting that wounded nine people in Providence in May 2021.  

Treasurer Magaziner has long been an advocate for common-sense gun safety legislation, testifying in favor of gun safety legislation every year he has been in office. Under Treasurer Magaziner’s leadership, Rhode Island was the fourth state in the country to divest its pension fund from companies that manufacture assault-style weapons for civilian use in January 2020.  

Treasurer Magaziner’s shareholder proposal with Mastercard was co-filed by Connecticut Treasurer Shawn Wooden, Mercy Investment Services, Congrégation des Soeurs des Saints Noms de Jésus et de Marie, Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of The Episcopal Church and Northwest Women Religious Investment Trust.