Should there be a law preventing banks from discriminating against gun companies?
‘If you want to make banking a red versus blue issue, then you don’t need to do business with the federal government.’-Senator John Kennedy (R-LA)
After the February 14, 2018, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, many private companies decided to publicly take a stand against gun rights. By law, private businesses can develop and implement their own policies as long as they do not discriminate based on race, religion, gender, national origin, disability or color.
Private companies, both big and small, local and international, lobby the government, contribute to political campaigns and announce their stances on political and social issues. Consumers, in turn, choose to either support or boycott said businesses—sometimes in a very public and viral way. This is how capitalism and democracy work. However, when an entity is controlled by strict regulations and governmental bodies, we tend to not be so forgiving when it comes to what that entity or organization’s leadership stands for. For example, since Starbucks asked gun owners to leave their guns in their cars, gun owners can simply choose to pick a different coffee shop, but when the Portland, Oregon police’s response to protests is questionable, lawsuits and swift corrective action are demanded from many different sides. There is a line between what is acceptable policies and behavior for private and public organizations. That is why it is so important to pay attention to those companies and organizations that take an official stance on firearms and the Second Amendment.
For five years, the firearms industry has been battling big banks for being able to continue doing business with each other. Beginning in 2013, under a directive from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) banks began to eliminate “high-risk” companies from their client list. This included credit repair services, dating services, head shops, pornographic business and others. Firearms and ammo also fell under these “high-risk” companies. Between 2013 and 2017, the initiative, called Operation Choke Point, caused many firearm companies to lose their credit lines, had their accounts frozen and were denied loans. Unless you followed gun blogs and gun industry news closely, you probably had no idea Operation Choke Point was occurring.
In 2017, Operation Choke Point was supposed to have come to a halt, but on March 29, 2018, Citigroup, the United States’ fourth-largest bank, announced a new “U.S. Commercial Firearms Policy” mandating companies that sold firearms to never sell to anyone under 21, as well as stating it would no longer do business with any company that sold bump stocks or “high-capacity magazines.” Bank of America followed Citigroup on April 10, 2019, when Vice Chairman, Anne Finucane, announced that the bank would stop funding “manufacturers of military-style firearms…”
As entities that took billions of dollars in tax payers’ money for bailouts, these banks should not be allowed to do this. In response, the Louisiana Bond Commission blocked Citibank and Bank of America from financing a $600 million project in the state. And on October 2, 2018, Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced S.3539—the No Red and Blue Banks Act—to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The bill would not allow the General Services Administration (GSA) from awarding contracts to any bank or financial institution that won’t do business with a company based on “social policy decisions,” ending the discrimination against firearm companies, retailers and manufacturers.
Banks Should not be Rewarded for Discriminating
Senator Kennedy says:
“Banks have competitive advantages as a result of government. When they use that government-provided market power to implement their version of appropriate social change, they’re in effect acting as a private regulator…Citigroup and Bank of America’s copy of the U.S. Constitution doesn’t include the Second Amendment, and they’re trying to force that version down the American people’s throats. These banks would be dead broke if it weren’t for the American taxpayers bailing them out. We don’t need red banks. We don’t need blue banks. We need financially stable banks. Citigroup and Bank of America need to stop playing politics and focus on their balance sheets.”
Watch Senator Kennedy’s remarks below.
David Codrea mentions in “Chokepoint Documents Show Obama Administration’s Extortion of Lawful Businesses” on Ammoland.com that the bill has no cosponsors and has a “3% chance of being enacted.”