Marketplace Scratch Pad

Credit cards and guns

Scott Jagow May 19, 2009

The Senate voted 90-5 today to pass new rules on credit card terms. The House has already passed its own bill, and it looks like this thing will become law by the weekend. What’s in it? Oh, you know, limits on raising interest rates and late fees, new rules on notifying customers and signing up people under 21. And in the Senate version, a provision to allow loaded guns in national parks.

It’s true. Republican Tom Coburn added the gun amendment, which passed easily. Even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada voted for it. From AP:

Spokesman Jim Manley said Reid is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, adding that the guns in parks issue was a major concern for many Nevadans.

“The rules that apply to our federal lands are felt acutely in Nevada, where 87 percent of the state’s land is managed by federal agencies,” Manley said.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which sued to block the Bush policy, called the Senate vote reckless. The group called on President Barack Obama to demand that the gun provision be stripped from the credit card bill.

“Families should not have to stare down loaded AK-47s on nature hikes,” said Brady campaign president Paul Helmke…

“Visitors to national parks should have the right to defend themselves in accordance with the laws of their states,” Coburn said.

It’s typical Washington to have a gun measure inside a credit card bill, isn’t it? Then again, maybe credit cards and loaded guns have a lot in common. If you keep them in the house…

Sean from Illinois writes into the Planet Money blog:

I got my Chase credit card bill this week and it had a $0 minimum payment, although I had had an abnormally expensive month. It didn’t make much sense til I looked closer and found this on my bill:

“You have the flexibility to skip a payment. You must pay past due and overlimit balances immediately. However,the remaining minimum payment for this month has been reduced to $0. Finance charges will continue to accrue. To reduce your balance, feel free to make a payment.”

And in the tiny print… “but we’d prefer it if you’d just shoot yourself financially.”

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