When we talk about threats to the Second Amendment, we usually limit the discussion to Democrat politicians, liberal activist judges, and advocacy groups like Everytown for Gun Safety. But gun manufacturers and distributors are increasingly concerned that the real threat to their industry will come not from Washington but from corporate America; specifically, from financial institutions who will no longer handle transactions and accounts from businesses who sell guns.
These concerns have been a long time coming. During the Obama years, a law enforcement initiative called Operation Chokepoint penalized banks and financial institutions for doing business with so-called “risky” operations, including pawn shops and gun sellers. Many small gun distributors saw their accounts frozen during this time, possibly a harbinger of things to come. The situation only got worse in the wake of the Parkland, FL school shooting, when several large banks and a few retailers decided they needed to make some changes to satisfy public demand. This led companies like Wal-Mart and Dick’s Sporting Goods to change the way they sell guns, and it has led a handful of banks to severely limit the kinds of firearms business they do.
In a new story, the Associated Press chronicles the changes in the pipeline and the fear gun manufacturers and distributors have for the future:
The moves are lauded by gun-safety advocates but criticized by the gun industry that views them as a backhanded way of undermining the Second Amendment. Gun industry leaders see the backlash as a real threat to their industry and are coming to the conclusion that they need additional protections in Congress to prevent financial retaliation from banks.
“If a few banks say ‘No, we’re not going to give loans to gun dealers or gun manufacturers’, all of a sudden the industry is threatened and the Second Amendment doesn’t mean much if there are no guns around,” said Michael Hammond, legal counsel for Gun Owners of America. “If you can’t make guns, if you can’t sell guns, the Second Amendment doesn’t mean much.”
Bank of America and Citigroup are just two of the financial institutions who have placed considerable restrictions on which kinds of businesses are acceptable in the new age of anti-gun sentiment. If their policies spread over time, it could become difficult – if not impossible – for both small and large businesses in the gun industry to survive.
“We may have to seek legislation to make sure it can’t be done and that you can’t discriminate against individuals from lawful exercise of a constitutional right,” National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Larry Keane told the AP. “Imagine if banks were to say you can’t purchase books or certain books aren’t acceptable. That would be problematic and I don’t think anyone would stand for that kind of activity by the banking industry.”