By NATALIA CASTRO
America’s largest banks should uphold American values: entrepreneurship, innovation, and, perhaps more than anything, the principles of the Constitution. Yet several of the country’s largest banks have decided to go against these principles by opposing the people’s Second Amendment right to bear arms. Citigroup and Bank of America have enacted policies to stop lending to companies that make semi-automatic rifles, while this has the potential for wide-reaching consequences on basic American rights, it also represents an opportunity for the people to prove the American way.
Citigroup announced in a March 22 press release their banks would “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.”
Similarly, in an interview with Bloomberg Television in early April, Back of America vice chairman Anne Finucane announced the bank would no longer finance companies that manufacture semi-automatic rifles for civilian use.
Citigroup Executive Vice President Ed Skyler explained in the press release; this policy does not center on “an ideological mission to rid the world of firearms” and defended the Constitutional right of millions of Americans to bear arms. These banks claim this will not affect individual consumers who use Citi or Bank of America cards yet the policy directly contradicts these words.
Across the country, gun manufacturers are being forced to adjust for this policy. Yvette Shields of the economic publication The Bond Buyer explains Chicago financial officials are working tirelessly to halt these anti-gun policies. Chicago chief financial officer Carole Brown noted, these banks policies will prevent the industry from gaining necessary capital, inherently restricting access to firearms.
Ben Jackson, vice president of government relations at the Illinois Bankers Association, told Shields, “Given the broad language of the ordinance, banks would find it ‘impossible’ to police the activities of all its retail clients… Banks could be subject to client lawsuits for their policies. The ordinance also lacks a waiver provision if there is a compelling business reason.”
By enacting anti-gun policies, Citigroup and Bank of America have attempted to restrict Americans access to guns and complicated the entire marketplace.
However, a press release from the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action highlights the irony of this action. As the April 13 release reminds, “Citigroup, Bank of America, and other major corporations would do well to recognize that the American voter, through their elected representatives, has repeatedly rejected restrictions on their Second Amendment rights.”
Now, the American people will not just have the chance to prove their commitment to the Second Amendment on the ballot box but also through their financial decisions. One bank has gone against the tide of Citigroup and Bank of America, Wells Fargo.
As Wells chief financial officer John Shrewsberry told reporters, “As our CEO has publicly stated, we do not believe that the American public wants banks to decide which legal products consumers can and cannot buy. We believe this issue requires a legislative solution that allows the public to voice their concerns.”
Wells Fargo has the right idea. Luckily, we have a capitalist system, so the American people can decide to move their business away from Bank of America and Citigroup and toward banks such as Wells Fargo that protect the people’s interest.
Banks are not policymakers and should not take that role. Particularly not banks that have been bailed out by the federal government who are now deciding to go against the Constitution. If Bank of America and Citigroup want to defy the basic principles of the Constitution they may, they are not the government, but the American people ought to defend those principles and take their business elsewhere.
Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government
Americans for Limited Government is a non-partisan, nationwide network committed to advancing free market reforms, private property rights and core American liberties. For more information on ALG please visit the website at www.GetLiberty.org. You can also read more articles at www.dailytorch.com.
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