Since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, there has been a movement among some banks to refuse to do business with gun manufacturers.
Bank of America will stop lending to business clients that manufacture military-style weapons for civilian use, becoming the latest U.S. financial institution to break ties with gunmakers following the mass shooting massacre at a Florida high school.
“We want to contribute in any way we can to reduce these mass shootings,” Anne Finucane, vice chairman of the Charlotte, N.C.-based banking giant, said during a Bloomberg TV interview on Tuesday.
Citigroup is setting restrictions on the sale of firearms by its business customers, making it the first Wall Street bank to take a stance in the divisive nationwide gun control debate.
The new policy, announced Thursday, prohibits the sale of firearms to customers who have not passed a background check or who are younger than 21. It also bars the sale of bump stocks and high-capacity magazines. It would apply to clients who offer credit cards backed by Citigroup or borrow money, use banking services or raise capital through the company.
By the way, if you’re doing business with BofA or CitiBank, you actually deserve whatever misfortune befalls you. This applies to before the Parkland shooting. I say this as a former customer of both and if you’ve encountered a more arrogant and inept financial institution that CitiBank, I’d like to hear about it.
What these banks are trying to do is use their lending authority to supersede federal firearms laws.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz has noticed what they are doing and has called them on it.
Mr. Michael L. Corbat, CEO
388 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
Mr. Brian T. Moynihan, CEO
Bank of America
100 North Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC 28255
Dear Messrs. Corbat and Moynihan:
Recently, your banks announced decisions to try to use your market power to restrict your customers’ lawful gun sales and gun purchases beyond what federal and state laws require. At Citigroup, customers are now required to exceed the three-day waiting period for background checks, to refuse firearm sales to adults under the age of 21, and to refuse to carry certain magazines that federal law allows. Customers who do not comply will have to “transition their business away from Citi.” Bank of America, likewise, plans to stop lending to companies that manufacture certain semi-automatic long guns.
No doubt these new policies were designed to placate liberal activists, earn favor with Democratic officeholders, and garner Citigroup and Bank of America media praise. Indeed, they track several pieces of legislation that my Democrat colleagues have already offered. But they are not welcome in Texas.
The citizens of Texas—including your millions of customers in Texas—appear to have a stronger commitment to protecting our constitutional liberties than do your boardrooms. Texans value Liberty and our God-given right to protect ourselves and our families too much to allow giant banks to dictate our rights, including our right to keep and bear arms.
The Bill of Rights should not be subject to corporate pressure or financial coercion. This is especially true given that less than 10 years ago, both of your institutions asked the public for a bailout. At the time, you both asserted it was in the public interest to do so.
The American taxpayer gave Citigroup $20 billion in cash and hundreds of billions more to guarantee its bad investments—the most in cash and guarantees from American taxpayers of any financial institution. Bank of America likewise received a taxpayer bailout of $45 billion and a guarantee of $118 billion against potential losses. In short, your banks exist today only because of the (perhaps foolish) largess of the taxpayers whose constitutional rights you are now trying to restrict.
As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, I have a responsibility to address both direct infringements of Americans’ constitutional rights and also practical barriers to the exercise of those rights. Your new policies, on their face, pose a serious barrier to the constitutional rights of millions of Americans.
Moreover, this pattern—of financial coercion that turns into political blackmail, in an effort to mandate policy outcomes that could not otherwise pass Congress—poses a real threat to our democratic process.
It is no surprise that your institutions have close relationships with Democratic politicians, or that your executive leadership may personally agree with their political agenda. But you have obligations to your stockholders, and to your customers, not to abuse your market power to serve narrow partisan objectives.
Indeed, your recent actions appear reminiscent of the Obama Administration’s abuse of power through “Operation Choke Point” or Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s efforts to extort CEOs to agree with his own preferred gun policy.
For those customers whose financial security you have threatened, they can be assured that there are many commercial bankers in Texas who would welcome their business.
But your efforts at “legislating through Wall Street”—and those politicians who are urging you on—pose serious threats to our rights.
I therefore write to ask several questions and for several categories of records. For purposes of these questions, “Citigroup” and “Bank of America” include all of your respective organizations’ affiliates and subsidiaries.
Does Citigroup or Bank of America intend to adopt any other political policies for their customers similar to those that are under consideration by, or have been considered by, the Senate Judiciary Committee? If so, please provide a complete list of such policies under consideration.
Did Citigroup or Bank of America consult any federal, state, or local government officials regarding these policies, either before or after its implementation? If so, please identify all any such officials.
Did those government officials make any threats, or promise any inducements for trying to force their preferred policy outcomes? If so, what specifically?
Has Citigroup or Bank of America discussed its new policies, whether before or after implementation, with any other financial institution that it does not own, including each other? How many horizontal competitors have cooperated in imposing these policies, and what precisely were the contents of the discussions?
Was Citigroup’s decision or Bank of America’s decision to adopt these policies primarily adopted as a result of customers’ demands or another similar business justification? If so, please provide records documenting the business considerations that were explored prior to adopting its policies, including why it believed these policies would be economically beneficial. If not, please indicate the basis for adopting these new policies, along with any records establishing that basis.
Your reply should include all records, such as e-mails, calls, logs of meetings, internal memoranda, and voicemails that are relevant to my questions, and should be received no later than May 15, 2018.
Chairman, Constitution Subcommittee
Senate Judiciary Committee
Cruz, unsurprisingly, is meeting resistance from Republicans:
But other Republicans, including some in Texas, have resisted the idea that the government should punish the banks.
“I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment,” said Dallas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Republican who leads the House Financial Services Committee. “But to have the government punish companies or banks for their corporate policies strikes me as a uniquely bad idea.”
Sen. John Cornyn said that he “would not necessarily favor the government punishing anybody,” suggesting instead that “consumers have a right to decide where they want to bank.”
“I don’t like what the banks are doing because they ought to be basing their decisions on economics, not on social policy,” said Cornyn, who is also slated to speak Friday at the NRA convention. “But they have a right to do it.”
This type of stuff is why I’ve pretty much stopped considering myself to be a conservative. Let’s suppose, for a moment, that BofA said if you provide services to homosexual weddings we will not accept your business? Do they have a right to do that? Of course not, even though homosexuals and marriage are a concept that would have caused the Founding Fathers to pee themselves laughing that such a ridiculous idea would ever be constitutionally protected. But if a business decides to modify federal laws governing the exercise of the Second Amendment, we conservatives are supposed to be down with it because, like, free enterprise, man. These people, and a large number of NeverTrump people, don’t seem to comprehend that we are actually engaged in an existential struggle for what the nation will look like. And what will decide that is not the number of mistresses Trump has had or the meany-pants things he’s tweeted but our acquiescence in letting the left use our own arguments against us while refusing to allow those same arguments to be applied against them…and we go along with it every time. Because we are stupid.