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Banks who cut ties with gun companies would be penalized under new Senate bill

Bank of America logo close-up (Canary Wharf building); view from Poplar DLR station. (Senseiich/Wikimedia Commons)
March 27, 2019

Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer has proposed a bill that would penalize the top banks if they refuse to deal with firearms businesses.

S.821, the “Freedom Financing Act” would amend the Federal Reserve Act to limit banks’ access to the Federal Reserve’s discount window, and limit credit card networks if they choose to reject business in the firearms industry, Politico reported.

Over the past year, big banks such as Citigroup and Bank of America have cut off their business dealings with the gun industry. The bill would target them and their close competitors, as banks with assets lower than $10 billion would be exempt from the bill.

Cramer said, “A small number of banks controlling most of the financial sector could effectively illegalize legal commerce by refusing to finance certain industries or process certain transactions. Look no further than pro-Second Amendment industries where such discrimination has already occurred. Big banks should not be the arbiters of constitutionality.”

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Sen. John Kennedy is co-sponsoring the bill. He said, “It’s not a bank’s job to create policy. They need to leave the policy making to Congress. Banks should not be able to discriminate against lawful customers on the basis of social policy.  The banks should keep in mind that these lawful customers are the same hard-working taxpayers who bailed them out during the recession,” according to a press release from Cramer’s office.

“This legislation will ban big banks from refusing to do business with customers that may not share the same political values as the bank.  This kind of power move is an unfair assertion of dominance by the big banks, which is why it should be illegal,” Kennedy added.

Cramer and Kennedy are both members of the Senate Banking Committee.

Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation said, “Senator Cramer’s leadership in confronting this issue guarantees social policies are debated and created by the elected officials Americans vote to represent their interests, not by faceless corporate boards representing the interest of the few. We applaud Senator Cramer for his clear vision in correcting this abuse of American trust and taxpayer dollars.”

According to the NRA website, anti-gun members of Congress have used intimidation tactics to get big banks to shun firearm businesses that are acting in a completely legal fashion.

Democrat Rep. Carolyn Maloney scolded the president and CEO of Wells Fargo Bank for “refusing to buckle to the pressure of the anti-gun lobby’s demands,” according to the NRA.

Mahoney asked the president, “How bad does the mass shooting epidemic have to get before you will adopt common sense gun safety policies like other banks have done?”

His reply was, “We just don’t believe that it is a good idea to encourage banks to enforce legislation that doesn’t exist.”