President Joe Biden is throwing out a few feeler jabs in his gun control fight. He’s talked of bans and repealing laws, which are certainly worthy of throwing up a guard to keep them from landing. Make no mistake. His fight plan is one of disciplined patience versus throwing haymakers.
He’s already setting up for a 1-2 combination that he believes would send the industry to the mat. He’s not looking to just win the round or the fight. He’s looking beyond the title. President Biden wants a knockout against the firearm industry that’s so painful, there’s no talk of a rematch.
President Biden is doing this by landing hard blows against the firearm industry’s ability to gain its footing financially. He’s not fighting fair either. Instead, President Biden is swinging below the belt.
The president’s “be first” strategy started just eight days after he was sworn into office. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which is structured to be independent of the Executive Branch so it isn’t vulnerable to political influence, hurriedly announced a “pause” of the Fair Access banking rule.
It was a convenient block of a rule that would have ended discriminatory lending practices targeted against the firearm industry and other businesses. Banks have been denying services simply because an industry was out of political favor.
This isn’t disqualification because the customer’s business was unlawful or a poor credit risk, but because the customer’s business fell within an industry that “woke” corporate bank board members found distasteful.
The Fair Access rule would have made it a fair and even match-up. It would have stopped big banks from picking winners and losers based on executives’ personal politics and protected banks from outside pressure from special interest groups to take a dive when it came to doing business with members of the firearm industry.
It put an end to the privatization of the illegal Operation Choke Point that was started by the Obama administration, run through the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) that denied banking services to the firearm industry.
That’s like the referee loading up a fighter’s gloves right before the bout starts. But the ref got caught. When the Biden administration “paused” the Fair Access rule, they basically winked at the cornerman, letting him know that as long as the gloves are loaded up in the locker room, he’s not going to stop it.
The Fair Access banking rule is just the first of two strikes intended to buckle the knees of the firearm industry. The second devastating shot is if President Biden gets his way and convinces Congress to repeal the bipartisan Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). This move would expose firearm and ammunition manufacturers and sellers to an avalanche of frivolous lawsuits by activist trial lawyers and gun control groups backed by their stable of big “white shoe” corporate law firms.
The real intent is to bankrupt the industry or, due to mounting legal fees, forced it to throw in the towel and enter settlement agreements for court-imposed gun control measures. Repealing the bipartisan PLCAA would turn the ring into a no-holds-barred, no-rules, anything-goes cage match.
President Biden isn’t proposing holding criminals accountable for their horrific crimes but wants to allow special interest groups to exploit them to land body blows against the firearm industry. It lines lawyers’ pockets and crushes businesses and jobs. This move does nothing to protect the public.
President Biden is blame-shifting. He’s shifting accountability for criminal actions away from the individual who committed a crime and putting it on manufacturers and retailers. To mix metaphors, it’s like suing Ford for the wrongful deaths caused by drunk drivers. The car maker didn’t cause the criminal to commit a crime that tragically took a life. The same with firearm manufacturers and retailers. Criminals must be held accountable.
President Biden isn’t concerned about accountability. He’s looking to hit hard and if it means changing the rules to get his way, he’s not above landing some kidney punches.
This fight is a rematch, however. The PLCAA was passed with broad bipartisan support in 2005 as a direct result of a wave of lawsuits filed by several dozen big city mayors in cahoots with the Brady Center and greedy trial lawyers looking for a payday.
This is the fight the firearm industry is facing. It is not a fair fight or one based on truth. It’s going to be dirty. It’s going to be emotional and it’s going to be drawn out. It is, after all, the fight for the firearm industry’s very existence.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.