Some banks have embarked on a business path to enact policies to restrict gun sales and exert pressure on the firearms industry. Two of banks grabbing headlines for anti-gun policies are Citibank and Bank of America.
Citibank, owned by Citigroup in New York, has issued a new policy called the “U.S. Commercial Firearms Policy.” Citi refuses to do business with any gun vendor that sells guns to customers under age 21—even though federal law and the majority of states allow gun sales to individuals at least 18 years of age who are not otherwise prohibited from owning a gun.
Citibank’s “rule” applies to gun manufacturers and retailers. Citigroup also stated it will cease doing business with companies that sell standard capacity ammunition magazines, including so-called high-capacity magazines.
“This policy will apply across the firm, including to small business, commercial and institutional clients, as well as credit card partners, whether co-brand or private label,” Executive Vice President Ed Skyler said, in a posted in a statement on the company website.
The company noted that “…our new policy centers around current firearms sales best practices that will guide those we do business with as a firm.”
So how did that go over with some of its customers? The three posts under the blog conveyed a refusal by customers to continue their financial support.
- “A craven and shameful attempt to curry favor from Citi’s political masters. Every American who values liberty and our Constitution should refrain from doing business with this company. I certainly will.”
- “I cancelled my Costco Citi Visa card upon learning of this policy, and informed Costco of the reason for my decision. If Citi wants to institute practices related to policies to improve the human condition, I suggest it start by looking inwardly at its credit policies and its practices that contributed to the great recession and its own insolvency. I also ask Citi officers and board members to consider its policies in view of the fact that 18 year old citizens are sent, at times compelled, to serve i the military with automatic military firearms for benefit of all citizens, including Citi officers and board members, but Citi believes that 18 to 20 year old citizens should not be permitted to purchase a single shot rifle or shotgun. I believe that a shareholder proposal is warranted to publicize such hypocrisy.”
- “I will be cancelling both of my Citi accounts. I called customer service to verify the 2nd amendment stance and was told to visit web site. I did and will not do anymore purchasing with Citi. They will not infringe on my rights.”
Citi says anyone who doesn’t agree with the policy can take their business elsewhere. “If they opt not to, we will respect their decision and work with them to transition their business away from Citi,” Skyler said.Citi also said it plans to initiate “due diligence conversations” with firearms manufacturers to investigate what products they make and sell, who they sell to and how their products are sold.
Bank of America said it refuses to “underwrite or finance military-style firearms” and has dropped a number of gun manufacturers as clients. Firearms manufacturers penalized by Bank of America include those who produce common variations of semi-automatics used by civilians. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said the decision was made at the request of “teammates” and that the bank will cease business with any firearm manufacturer that does not “modify their practices.”
According to the NRA-Institute for Legislative Action:“Those banks [Citigroup and BoA] chose to cave in to anti-gun extremists and establish policies that sought to force their customers in the firearm industry to change their practices, or lose access to financial services.”
JPMorgan Chase continues to lend to firearms manufacturers and retailers, but that may change. Its CEO Jamie Dimon said that the bank may “consider” implementing a different policy.
“‘Everything we do with clients goes through a severe process of review, reputational risk, etc. We have a very small relationship with gun manufacturers,’ Dimon said … “‘There are over 100,000 retailers out there who sell guns. Every single one that we do business with we do a thorough review … and if we think they are doing something wrong our risk committee stops doing business with them.’”
Banks are not elected bodies; they are conduits of money. Clearly banks enforcing anti-gun rules against law-abiding citizens and businesses feel entitled to use their money as a battering ram to exert unjust pressure onto others. These banks and their lofty, out-of-touch CEOs seem to feel entitled to place themselves above our Second Amendment rights.
The greatest irony here is that money in banks belongs to citizens—meaning that if citizens disagree with a bank’s political position, they are free to stop doing business with that bank.
In every business transaction, there is an agreement between a merchant and a customer. Thus financial pressure can work both ways.
Unlike Citibank and Bank of America, Wells Fargo has maintained its support of law-abiding gun owners, retailers and manufacturers.
Wells Fargo has bravely withstood a storm of political pressure, refusing to discriminate on customers and maintaining its independent and lawful principles.
“We just don’t believe it is a good idea for banks to enforce legislation that doesn’t exist,” Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan noted recently.
Banks such as Wells Fargo deserve the support of law-abiding American gun owners and will surely prosper in our healthy, independent economy.
Yet, those like Citibank and Bank of America likely will experience the inevitable financial consequences that ensue when businesses try to oppress customers in a free market.