The nation has been roiled in a fierce debate in the weeks following the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Among those entering the fray have been a smattering of companies, offering up a variety of methods of virtue signaling regarding guns.
Some have made moves within the corporation, while others have engaged in targeting the National Rifle Association. While these are questionable, and probably divisive within the customer base, those are still maneuvers private companies are entitled to enact as they see. More worrisome is when one of the nation’s leading financial institutions not only declares it will begin to enforce its standard on other companies but further will attempt to collocate other major banks to follow suit. More than altering private company operations Citi wants to influence public behavior and enforce an economic policy against other companies.
In a blog post today on its corporate website CitiGroup’s Executive Vice President Ed Skylar announced the company is set to enact brand new policies regarding its business clients which engage in firearm commerce. While some of the announced standards are opaque others are rather direct, and the company declares the possibility of severing ties with those companies that will not adhere to the standards.
In referencing the recent shooting in Parkland Skylar says, “We have waited for our grief to turn into action.” The company is clear what side is has chosen, as he says that it expects to “see our nation adopt common-sense measures that would help prevent firearms from getting into the wrong hands.” Of course, he then goes on to promote policy that does little to address those wrong hands from obtaining nefarious weapons.
Today, our CEO announced Citi is instituting a new U.S. Commercial Firearms Policy. It is not centered on an ideological mission to rid the world of firearms. That is not what we seek. There are millions of Americans who use firearms for recreational and other legitimate purposes, and we respect their Constitutional right to do so.
Commonplace with these recent company maneuverings is they try to stress the parlance of respecting the Second Amendment, as they target gun rights specifically. Skylar then lays out the new standards their gun-selling clients must adhere to.
Our new policy centers around current firearms sales best practices that will guide those we do business with as a firm. Under this new policy, we will require new retail sector clients or partners to adhere to these best practices: (1) they don’t sell firearms to someone who hasn’t passed a background check, (2) they restrict the sale of firearms for individuals under 21 years of age, and (3) they don’t sell bump stocks or high-capacity magazines. This policy will apply across the firm, including to small business, commercial and institutional clients, as well as credit card partners, whether co-brand or private label. It doesn’t impact the ability of consumers to use their Citi cards at merchants of their choice.
As has been all too common in the debates with those purporting to fix the problem the solutions that are proposed do not address the causes behind these shootings. The first best practice is a curious one, as new gun purchases already must involve a background check. Additionally, the Parkland shooter actually passed his BGC when purchasing his gun. As for the high-capacity magazines and bump-stocks, neither was a factor with the Parkland shooting.
The other “solution” — the raising of the purchasing age to 21 years — this is something other retailers (Wal-Mart, Dick’s Sporting Goods) have announced. In those instances both companies are being taken to court over the policy, in discrimination suits. However, these new Citi standards appear as mere stepping-stones, as Skylar alludes to far more sweeping changes.
He states, “we would like to convene those in the financial services industry and other stakeholders to tackle these challenges together and see what we can do.” It is not enough for them to make a stance as a corporation; they want to make these sweeping changes the standard in the banking industry. They intend to exert significant influence by having the major financial lenders strong-arming gun policy.
This is the proposal of a major financial leader that was once deemed “Too Big To Fail”. Ten years ago Citi was on the verge of insolvency as a result of the economic crisis, and it received a government bailout. Now the company, that accepted tens of billions of taxpayer dollars, wants to restrict companies from how they sell guns to those same citizens. Skylar even employs language here that sounds far more totalitarian than Capitalism-driven:
“We hope to leverage collective action to encourage responsible practices by all who sell firearms.”
They want to use “collective action”, expecting that “to encourage responsible practices”. Those are the words of a tinpot dictator, one attempting to exert influence over a populace. That those words are delivered by a financial services giant with a market cap of $1.8 trillion — and one that was rescued by the federal government less than a decade ago — in an attempt to limit Constitutional freedom, should send a chill down the collective back of this nation’s citizens.