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Banks Accused of Discrimination Against Gun Owners

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The House Financial Services Committee’s recent hearing to scrutinize the nation’s largest banks and their practices after they received taxpayer dollars in the 2008 bailout featured some interesting comments by bank executives defending policies that discriminate against gun owners and the firearms manufacturing industry.

During the April 12 “Holding Megabanks Accountable: A Review of Global Systemically Important Banks 10 years after the Financial Crisis” hearing, Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat basically said imposing the institution’s ant-gun policy is a higher priority than wisely managing investors’ money.

In an April 18 Town Hall column, National Shooting Sports Foundation [NSSF] Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel Larry Keane applauded National Center Public Policy Research and Free Enterprise Project attorney Justin Danhof’s questioning of Corbat during the hearing.

It was gratifying to see Corbat and other banking executives “getting asked some hard questions about fiscal sanity of their decision to discriminate against firearms businesses” especially since “their answers aren’t likely to soothe investors,” Keane writes.

During the hearing, Danhof asked Corbat, “Can you tell us—your investors—exactly how much money we stand to lose because of this decision, and explain why you have this right while Warren Buffet has this wrong?”

Danhof was referring to Buffett’s 2018 explanation of why he refuses to impose his political views on investors in running Berkshire Hathaway in response to Andrew Ross Sorkin’s question during a CNBC interview about doing business with gun manufacturers.

“I don’t believe in imposing my political opinions on the activities of our businesses,” he said. “I don’t believe in imposing my views on 370,000 employees and a million shareholders. I’m not their nanny on that.”

Buffet is hardly a gun-rights supporter. He’s a board member of billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety. He just sees it, “as bad business for unaccountable corporate C-Suites to dictate public policy,” Keane writes.

Corbat acknowledged Citigroup’s policy is to discriminate against firearms manufacturers and retailers who refuse to abide by their policy of instituting age-based gun bans, “deny a right to keep and bear arms by a legal adult,” Keane writes, and that the policy is not a Second Amendment threat but a “good practice.”

Corbat said they would only do business with retailers who conduct full background checks and no financing for companies that use loans to convert legal firearms into illegal firearms.

“If it sounds confusing, it’s because Corbat purposefully was aiming to do so,” Keane writes, noting all federally licensed firearms retailers are required by federal law to conduct an FBI background check at the point-of-sale before they can transfer a firearm to a consumer.

“This is done each and every time. This is not a ‘best practice,’ it’s the law which the industry supports,” he continues. “Also, no firearms manufacturers use any money–lent, invested or earned–to convert legal firearms into illegal ones. It’s a quick way lose a manufacturing license and head to prison.”

Citigroup’s anti-gun policies are hurting its investors, Keane said, noting Louisiana has barred Citigroup for competing for a $600 million road improvement project, “for interfering the lawful commerce-in-arms,” and U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-ND, and U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Texas, have introduced the Freedom Financing Act (S. 821/H.R. 2019), which would prevent banks from accessing taxpayer-funded insurance if they institute discriminatory policies against the firearms industry.

“It’s time for banks to focus on banking and let voters weigh in on politics,” Keane states.

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