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Gun lobby takes aim at 'gun-hating' banks


May 18. 2018 8:20PM
A man walks with his Remington 870 Express 12 gauge shotgun during a pro-gun and Second Amendment protest outside the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix, Ariz., on Jan. 19, 2013. (JOSHUA LOTT/REUTERS FILE)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. gun lobby is taking aim at “gun-hating” banks after Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America said they would no longer provide certain banking services to gun-makers, according to industry lobbyists.

The attack by Gun Owners of America and the National Rifle Association (NRA) could imperil deregulatory gains the banks had hoped to win from Republican lawmakers and regulators, many of whom are staunch defenders of the Second-Amendment right to bear arms, according to industry sources.

In March, Citigroup put restrictions on new retail business clients which sell guns to require their customers to pass background checks, following February’s Florida high school shooting that killed 17 people. Weeks later, Bank of America said it would no longer lend to companies that make military style firearms for civilians.

Gun-control activists and Democrats praised the policy, urging other financial firms to follow suit. But gun owners and manufacturers say it encroaches on Americans’ constitutional rights and they are fighting back.

Gun Owners of America (GOA), a Washington-based lobby group, has asked lawmakers to add a provision to a draft law rewriting bank rules that it says would prevent “gun-hating banks” from “discriminating” against firearms makers.

The bill reforming the 2010 Dodd Frank act is set to be voted on by the House of Representatives next week.

While financial-industry lobbyists say the bill is likely to pass without the provision on gun-lending, the firearms issue is threatening to turn the powerful gun lobby into an adversary for banks on other regulatory issues longer term.

“Citigroup and Bank of America are threatening our Second Amendment rights. They do not realize how much more there is to lose than to gain,” by their new policies, said GOA’s executive director, Erich Pratt.

The group this month wrote to its 1.5 million members urging them to petition House lawmakers to vote against the bill if the provision is not added.

“Our members will take direct action to such discriminatory lending practices by these banks,” Pratt added.

Citigroup and Bank of America declined to comment.

Charles Adcox, a member of GOA, has stopped accepting Citi and Bank of America credit cards at his Missouri gun shop Black River Armory in response to their new policy.

“My more loyal customers don’t mind paying in cash. Some even wish to drop their credit card companies for gun-friendly alternatives,” Adcox told Reuters.

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