When gun control advocates can’t win on guns, they have tried to either silence those who support self-defense from having their views covered in the media, youtube banning videos intending to sell firearms or accessories or how to use guns or build them, or prevent firearms companies from getting financing. On financing, the first strategy was to use government pressure. With that ended, individual finance companies are making life difficult for those in the firearms industry.
In 2013, the Obama administration initiated Operation Choke Point, which utilized the banking industry to “choke off” the ability of certain “fraudulent” businesses in “high-risk” sectors to operate by cutting off their access to financial services. Many in the gun industry found themselves suddenly cut off from banking relationships without notice or explanation.
“This administration has very clearly told the banking industry which customers they feel represent ‘reputational risk’ to do business with,” said Peter Weinstock, a lawyer at Hunton & Williams LLP. “So financial institutions are reacting to this extraordinary enforcement arsenal by being ultra-conservative in who they do business with: Any companies that engage in any margin of risk as defined by this administration are being dropped.”
The Washington Times has some examples of firearms companies cut off by the Obama administration.
• T.R. Liberti, owner and operator of Top Gun Firearms Training & Supply in Miami, has felt the sting firsthand. Last month, his local bank, BankUnited N.A., dumped his online business from its service.
An explanatory email from the bank said: “This letter in no way reflects any derogatory reasons for such action on your behalf. But rather one of industry. Unfortunately your company’s line of business is not commensurate with the industries we work with.”
• Black Rifle Armory in Henderson, Nevada, had its bank accounts frozen this month as the bank tried to determine whether any of Black Rifle’s online transactions were suspicious.
• In 2012, Bank of America suddenly dropped the 12-year account of McMillan Group International, a gun manufacturer in Phoenix, even though the company had a good credit history, the owner said. Gun parts maker American Spirit Arms in Scottsdale, Arizona, received similar treatment by Bank of America, the country’s largest banking institution.
By August 2017 the Trump administration had ended Operation Choke Point.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for gun control activists to reinstitute this action in another form. In March, Andrew Ross Sorkin, a columnist for The New York Times, advocated if government officials won’t curb gun sales in the U.S., companies that handle the payments for guns should do it. Gun control groups, such as the Brady Campaign, have also been pushing the idea.
Unfortunately, this year Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp.have put restrictions on companies in the gun business.
— Over the last few weeks, Intuit has stopped processing credit card payments for all gun-related sales, even when the deals don’t involve firearms. Small businesses have found purchases of T-shirts, coffee mugs, and gun safety classes prevented.
— Citigroup, the nation’s fourth-largest bank, announced in March that it would prohibit the use of its financial services for people under age 21 who tried to buy guns. It would also require that all sales had to go through universal background checks.
— Bank of America, the nation’s second-largest bank, appropriately announced on Bloomberg TV in April that they would no longer finance the operations for companies that made the most commonly owned semi-automatic rifles. Of course, this means that Bank of America will still be providing financial services to other gun makers.
On the other hand, Wells Fargo Bank, the nation’s third-largest bank, has withstood tremendous political pressure from gun control advocates. Wells Fargo has been targeted because they have had a strong working relationship with the NRA. The American Federation of Teachers dropped Wells Fargo as the bank they recommended as the mortgage lender for the national education union’s 1.7 million members. Bloomberg had this headline in March: “Wells Fargo Is the Go-To Bank for Gunmakers and the NRA.”