Will President Biden Revamp Operation Chokepoint?

posted on December 6, 2022
Gage Skidmore courtesy Flickr

One would think that political figures involved in underhanded scandals in the past would not be elevated to positions in which they might try again, but when it comes to President Joe Biden (D) and “Operation Chokepoint,” that’s not even remotely true.

Biden is now doubling down, seeking to reappoint Martin J. Gruenberg—the man who was chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) at the time of the scandal—back to that position.

As NRA Institute for Legislation Action (ILA) explained back in 2014, Operation Chokepoint was an attempt by the Obama administration, with Biden as vice president, to use banking regulations to choke off the exercise of Second Amendment rights. At the time, the FDIC listed several merchant categories as being “high-risk,” including firearm sales and ammunition sales.

Through the “operation,” banks were made to feel threatened if they did business with any of the “high-risk” merchant categories; consequently, many banks curtailed working with businesses on the list, resulting in some banks completely dumping some in the firearms industry as customers.

Now the man who was in charge back then has been tapped, once again, to head the agency by President Biden, who either has a short memory of the scandal or, perhaps, has such banking shenanigans in mind again; after all, given recent efforts targeting credit card companies in an effort to build a national gun registry, it’s no secret that the financial sector is one industry gun-ban advocates are utilizing in their efforts to curtail the Second Amendment.

After being confronted with the realities of Operation Chokepoint, Gruenberg, in 2015, tried to explain away the FDIC’s guidance documents.

“We have taken a number of significant steps to ensure that both our examination staff and our supervised banks understand that the FDIC will not criticize, discourage or prohibit banks that have appropriate controls in place from doing business with customers who are operating consistent with federal and state law,” Gruenberg told a congressional subcommittee. “We
also have established procedures to make certain that these policies and expectations are effectively implemented.”

The bold reappointment of Gruenberg has NRA-ILA putting a spotlight on the facts about him and Operation Chokepoint: “That Biden now proposes to reappoint the FDIC chairman under whose watch Operation Chokepoint decimated many lawful and creditworthy businesses is a telling and provocative move,” NRA-ILA reported. “Your NRA will ensure that Gruenberg cannot hide his legacy with Operation Chokepoint during his latest nomination.”

Of course, not everyone opposes Biden’s nomination of Gruenberg to the FDIC directorship. U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D), an ardent anti-Second Amendment advocate, fawned over the nomination in a statement released after the appointment was made public.

“I want to congratulate Acting Chair Martin Gruenberg on his nomination by President Biden to serve as chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation,” Waters said. “With decades of public service, including providing years of invaluable oversight of our nation’s banking system, even during the most challenging times, I am confident that he is well suited to lead the FDIC as a confirmed chair again during these volatile times.”

Senators, whatever their party, need to remember that Operation Chokepoint unfairly impacted lawful industries. And they must remember who was in charge of the FDIC at the time of that scandal. The financial sector should not be used by activists in the federal government to enact policies the American people have clearly not voted for; this is especially true when we are talking about companies that make constitutionally protected products.


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