Sen. John Kennedy courtesy
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A story in yesterday’s New York Times by Adam Rappeport was titled, Banks Tried to Curb Gun Sales. Now Republicans Are Trying to Stop Them. They say that like it’s a bad thing.

It seems that some members of Congress are taking an appropriately dim view of financial services giants — companies that benefitted from tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars in US taxpayer-paid bailouts and loan guarantees in recent memory — that have decided to dictate gun control policy for their customers.

“If you’re going to turn us into a nation of red banks and blue banks, you’re making a mistake,” Senator John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican and member of the banking committee, said in a recent interview before the latest shooting. “Don’t come crying to us when you screw up and you want the American taxpayer to bail you out.”

We appreciate Sen. Kennedy’s sentiments, but as history has shown, in a crisis, money center banks like Citibank and Bank of America are always considered too big to fail.

Their newly instituted policies are examples of non-governmental efforts to reconstitute the Obama administration’s Operation Choke Point. And they’re being egged on by anti-gun politicians in both state and federal government.

Some pro-gun Republicans are trying to push back against restrictive polices.

Senator Michael D. Crapo, the Idaho Republican who heads the banking committee, sent blistering letters in late April to the top executives at Citigroup and Bank of America, accusing them of using their market power to manage social policy. He told them not to go any further and warned them against developing ways to monitor gun transactions through their payments systems, a move that gun advocates view as a dangerous step toward using data to block law-abiding customers from buying guns.

“I am concerned when government agencies use their power to try to cut off financial services for lawful businesses they may disfavor,” Mr. Crapo wrote to Michael Corbat, Citigroup’s chief executive. “I am also concerned when large national banks use their market power for similar purposes.”

Meanwhile, legislators aren’t getting much help from the regulatory agencies with oversight authority over the banks.

During congressional hearings this spring, Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Randal K. Quarles, vice chairman of supervision at the Federal Reserve, faced questions from Republican lawmakers about whether regulators could intervene.

Mr. Quarles indicated that the issue was outside of the scope of the Fed’s mandate. Mr. Mulvaney said that what the banks were doing to the gun industry was “troubling,” but that he did not think it was his agency’s role to intercede.

And some say they’re reluctant to tell highly regulated financial institutions how to do business.

“I’m still thinking through this, because I generally don’t like to tell businesses how to conduct their business,” said Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania. “But it is certainly problematic if it were to be the case that the major banks that provide the infrastructure for so much of our financial services decided that they were going to practically shut down a perfectly legal industry.”

In the mean time, more firearms retailers and manufacturers are reporting to TTAG that they’re having increasing difficulty processing credit card transactions, getting financing, or even insuring their businesses. The coordinated demonization, isolation and harassment of public and private businesses that produce and sell legal products to law-abiding, background-checked Americans continues apace.

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  1. We need a Congressional bill giving a cause-of-action when any federal licensee adopts and pursues a formal policy of suppressing the exercise of any Constitutionally protected civil right. Treble-damages should be authorized for a guilty finding.

    What would we think of a bank, broker, airline, radio/TV station, etc. that adopted a policy of refusing to provide service to females it found who had registered to vote; or, adults under 18 who had registered to vote; or citizens of color; or Catholics who had registered to vote?

    • Exactly. ^ They don’t have any problem telling banks and financial institutions that they may not discriminate against people who want to exercise their constitutional rights to buy a home or participate in the greater economy by borrowing money. But it’s ok if they want to exercise their 2nd amendment rights

    • The Right to keep and bear arms is a constitutionally protected right.

      This is a civil rights violation, they should be sued because of it.

      That said, tell them that they do not get to do business with the US Government if they have these trade practices. Same as they did with contracts to force DoD contractors to have trans bathrooms, etc.

  2. Making yourself useful for a change republitard’s. Donnie needs to step in and earn those R votes. It’s not enough to boycott these bastards…

  3. The second these banks took those billion dollar bailouts, they ceased being private entities, and became government programs. Therefore they are now subject to all the bureaucratic red tape and regulations of any government entity.

  4. What extraordinary opportunities are being presented for entrepreneurs…of fifty years ago.

    Nowadays, we just wanna bitch and moan like the victimhood pimps, and look to government to save us.

  5. Frankly, the banks that are doing this are idiots and not for the reason that most people think. Things like blockchain and peer to peer lending are going to make it increasingly difficult for the big banks to do business since many of the functions of banks will now be able to be done without the middleman (banks) making them less and less useful to the average person. What are they going to do when the next banking crisis hits and thousands of ticked off gun owning citizens demand that banks like Citibank and Bank of America are NOT bailed out

    • “Things like blockchain and peer to peer lending are going to make it increasingly difficult for the big banks to do business…”

      I wouldn’t bet on that. Eventually government will regulate such a thing out of existence and/or legally punish uses to the point no one even tries to use such a service.

      “What are they going to do when the next banking crisis hits and thousands of ticked off gun owning citizens demand that banks like Citibank and Bank of America are NOT bailed out”

      Ignore the plebs and bail the financial institutions out. Duh. They were “too big to fail” and still are.

    • I went to a credit union and it is much better than a bank. I think that these hot shot banks that want to tell consumers that they cannot deal in certain lawful commerce need to have an in depth IRS audit.

  6. So we now want the government to step and force private business to something their management has decided is against their interest. There may (but really not) an argument for banks that were bailed out (all of them that are still in business have paid back the equity, mostly with significant returns) for some government oversight, but others, like Intuit who make Quickbooks, aren’t banks and have nothing to do with government.

    This seems a non conservative approach, and a slippery slope, as to when the Dems are in charge again, as is inevitable, then the R’s, and round and round we go. This is pure government engineered economics, i.e. communism, not the theoretical kind, the kind practiced in the Soviet model, that didn’t work out well.

    • Unfortunately, we don’t have a free market economy. If we did, these banks would likely not even exist as we know them, as a truly free market favors smaller, more flexible firms. These leviathan banks are state backed institutions. As long as we’re stuck with them, we should use our collective authority over the state to make sure they act in our best interest. Is it an ideal system? Hell no. But, it’s what it’s what we’re stuck with until the whole system collapses and the survivors can try something else.

      As a libertarian, I recognize that a lot of our societal problems are caused by statism, yet I also recognize that abolishing or greatly diminishing the state is unlikely to happen without massively disrupting civilization. Thus, I’m willing to throw my support behind statist solutions to these statist problems until the root of the problem can be dealt with reasonably cleanly.

  7. I would say the way to deal with this is codify them not being too big to fail and also making it easier for new financial services to pop up. Besides this, it would likely also be good to start rolling back regulation that chooses winners and losers within the financial industry in general.

    Lastly, if they wanted to troll they could just make it so that any financial stuff that’s done to the gun industry has to be done to providers of the abortion industry. That’d really get em going. Then they could claim that the left is a bunch of conspiracy theorists and no one is trying to take away their abortions.

  8. I’d love to hear some first-hand accounts of these gun retailers and manufacturers who are having trouble processing credit card transactions. Stories from the ground about how these banks’ policies are actually effecting businesses would make for good reading.

  9. Here is a great business opportunity
    I wish I knew anything about credit cards and banking and had some capital
    The gun and ammo business is a multi billion dollar business
    I would love to process their credit card transactions, give them short term loans against account receivables, and lend to Glock, Walther, Steyr, Knights, FN, when they build factories in gun friendly states.
    It seems like a great way to make millions!

  10. I guess we just learned where the war will start. Democrats will likely refuse to bail out “red” banks next time they torpedo the economy while in power and instead prop up their loyalists with the “red” peoples’ taxes. It will rightly be viewed as both theft and a means of neutralizing political opposition.

    Screw with peoples’ money, blood is inevitable.

  11. Oh, time to bring out the big guns, so to speak. Stop playing… We won’t get any of what I’m suggesting, but the point is it’ll raise the issue, and set the terms of the debate.

    It’s time to stop being PR schmucks.

    “You can’t be serious about this law. You don’t really think you’ll get an armed teacher in every classroom?”

    “It it’ll work, I think it’s exactly what we should get. So, I’m proposing it, and people don’t want it can vote no, or argue no, and explain why.”

    The banking thing is the same: “You can’t be serious about this law. You don’t really think you can get processing for gun businesses as a public accommodation claim?”

    “Well, I think banks are a public accommodation. We haven’t had private banks in this country since the 1930’s, really. Or, if they’re private, why did we bail them out to the tune of a couple trillion? And not for the first time.”

    “Legally, government discriminating against any legal activity is kind of repugnant. Sometimes, we don’t even let private companies do that — baking cakes, for example. So, why do banks, subsidized, bankrolled, and backstopped by us, get to discriminate on our dime?”

    “I think this is what should happen. Anyone who thinks otherwise, well, make your case…”

    Winning in the law, on the merits is not the only use of legal or legislative proposals. Indeed the “anti’s” work this way relentlessly — doubtless Bloomie’s influence, as the figureheads aren’t worldly or disciplined enough to do this themselves. BUT, he’d know about using the law for other impacts. Bury them in suits — drain their funds; dirty up their image; extract a cost from anyone who would support them.

    /A Modest Proposal
    Banks are no more permitted to discriminate in payment processing than they are in awarding mortgages. Cue the “disparate impact” suits, via the AG civil rights division.

    In congress, let us see the “Are You Paying Attention Zuck?” act AKA “It’s a pubic accommodation, so you can no more discriminate than a family owned bake shop. Or a lunch counter.”

    While we’re at it, let’s propose “Net Neutrality for Realz.” To most people “The Internet” *is* FaceSpace, TheTwits, Im-a-Zonna Let You Finish Paying, and Caj A Google. So, as “public accommodations”, “No discrimination for you.” Cough up your stats, please. and BTW, “neutrality” “regulation” on the underlying pipes is, well, a pretty transparent attempt at marshalling your own selected hordes, to impose on your vendors something you won’t do yourself. The fact that it might cost FaceGoog & the rest some coin if NetNotNeutralFlix could pay for better service on the delivery piples has nothing to do with their promoting regulation for thee, but not for me. Nope.

    BTW, curious how LeftNet — er — left landing the ObamaTron Content Deal til *after* “net neutrality* dropped from this week’s headlines. (Don’t worry. They’ll be back.)

    My modest proposal: Sure, “net neutrality”, but only if it’s 1) measured by “disparate impact”, 2) at every service level of the Interwebz, every general service and any instance that gets over 10% of the market, and 3) includes content discrimination.

    That would be hard to police. How’s this. Legislate that any general use Interweb service is *by definition* a public accommodation, and as such is required to expose to general use an analytic dashboard, so people discriminated against can police it themselves. I’m flexible. Data about their acocunt ajudications and content-wranglings can take up to two news cycles to become available in the analytics.

    • I enjoyed your analysis and proposal. Thanks for taking the time.

      The two significant impediments (forgetting for the moment the cowardice of politicians) that seem to leap out are:
      a. The people you would be dependent on to end the commercial discrimination against financial transactions related to guns are the same people who invented the tactic being used by private businesses: the federal government; operation “Cokepoint”.

      b. Internet neutrality really isn’t. The internet would be regulated as a utility, not a public accommodation. There are byzantine laws regarding federal control (or any government) of utilities. Besides, the internet we have is because there was no government regulation. Federal utility regulation (at the behest of owners of AM radio stations) stopped FM broadcasting for a couple of decades. As in, FM was not allowed out of the box. You really never want government regulation expanded in your life.

      • Thanks Sam. I hope the comment system lets you notice my tardy response.

        You’re right about impediments. I think that simply making that proposal flushes out impediments and misinformation. The further you take it, “seriously”, the more the situation gets exposed. A lot of the time, that’s a good strategy for people who don’t control the voice of the culture. The Process Is The Payoff (with apologies to The Blogfather.)

        You are exactly right that Net Neutrality” was promoted as sort of a public accommodation, while proposing a public utility. The trick is getting that out in the discussion, without making everyone MEGO.

        Myself, I think the attraction of “Net Neutrality” was to create another swath of “Mother, may I?” in what people do, and another cohort of overlords collecting patronage while steering the world to a better place that only they know.

        In a world where a few $100,000 of Russian FaceSpace ads swayed an election — even Clapper is saying this, now, so it must be true (/sarc) — what sort of influence would come to gatekeepers embedded in the most powerful communications infrastructure we’ve ever seen?

  12. I have been a customer of Bank of America for over 30 years. I have opened new accounts at a bank that is not participating in this nonsense. I am still in the process of moving my money and “bill pay” accounts, but I will be done soon. It is a painful process.

    I realize that my accounts are less than a drop in the bucket, but I need to do my part to send a message to this bank. If enough of us do this, it might get their attention.

    I will also throw my Citi and Chase Manhattan cards in a drawer and stop using them. I have no balances and I won’t close the accounts. I figure that it costs something to keep these inactive accounts on the books.


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