The forces fighting for total civilian disarmament first utilized the power of government to pressure financial institutions to stop doing business with the gun industry. The Obama administration undertook that effort via Operation Choke Point.
The general outline is the DOJ and bank regulators are putting the screws to banks and other third-party payment processors to refuse banking services to companies and industries that are deemed to pose a “reputation risk” to the bank. Most controversially, the list of dubious industries is populated by enterprises that are entirely, or at least generally, legal.
Allegedly sketchy, but still legal businesses like payday lenders, escort services, pornographers and, yes, firearms and ammunition manufacturers and retailers.
As American Banker wrote once the Obama administration was safely in the rear-view mirror . . .
Those involved in Operation Choke Point demonstrated a blatant disregard for the rule of law and due process, as well as the U.S. regulatory system, and the effect of their actions will resonate for years to come. All Americans should demand answers and corrective action, including the immediate removal of all those involved from their current positions — including both (FDIC Chairman Martin) Gruenberg and (FDIC Chicago Regional Director Anthony) Lowe, who still serve in FDIC leadership.
That all finally came to an end after the 2016 election. But the pressure on banks and insurers then shifted from the federal to the state level. After Parkland, New York’s Governor Andrew Soprano and his Consigliere of Financial Services, Maria Vullo, put the squeeze on banks and insurers with operations in New York (i.e., almost all of them). They let it be known, in no uncertain terms, that they wanted to see them stop doing business with the NRA and to cut off their Carry Guard insurance program. Others have since jumped on board.
The NRA has sued New York over their strong-arm tactics and that legal action is still working its expensive way through the courts.
In the wake of those moves, a number of banks and other businesses made ostentatious announcements letting all the good people know that they’d decided not to touch any gun money any more because it’s all so icky. Too-big-to-fail lenders like Citigroup and Bank of America were prominent among them. It was all part of a new corporate gun control push by big American business against the déclassé gun industry.
Now, as the New York Times reports, some operation calling itself Guns Down America is publishing a scorecard of big banks and the degree to which they’re doing business with gun makers, the NRA and other firearms-related entities. They’ve just published the grades at isyourbankloaded.org.
Guns Down America and our partners reviewed public financial and legal filings to determine how much business the nation’s 15 largest banks have conducted with gun manufacturers, the NRA, and the top recipients of NRA contributions in Congress. Based on this information, we have graded the banks on a 100-point scale.
If you’re keeping score at home, a failing grade is very much a good thing (see above).
The new scorecard ranks consumer banks on financial relationships between banks and gun, ammunition and accessory manufacturers, financial relationships between the banks and the NRA or Gun Owners of America, sponsorships or member benefits provided to NRA members, statements by the banks regarding the need for stronger gun violence prevention laws, and campaign donations to the NRA’s Million Dollar Members.
As the NYT quotes GDA’s ED . . .
Igor Volsky, Guns Down America’s founder and executive director, said he hoped the grading system would compel banks to be more publicly supportive of gun control measures, in the same way that many companies have taken positions on gay rights, immigration and other social issues.
Part of the mission, he added, is stopping “the Wild Wild West of how gun manufacturers both produce military-style weapons and also how they can market those firearms.”
Put your coffee down before reading the next part.
“We’re not interested in shaming banks or running a campaign focused on how evil they are,” Mr. Volsky said. “Our end goal is to change the way banks make decisions when doing business with the gun industry.”
Uh huh. It’s just the latest effort to other-ize the gun industry and its millions of customers. Whether it’s branding Carry Guard as “murder insurance,” spreading fake news about guns and credit cards, or this latest move to name and shame banks that finance firearm-related businesses, the beat goes on. And on.