Banks Not Shooting Straight With Truth In Lending To Firearms Companies

Opinion by Larry Keane
Editor’s Note: This column was published in The Federalist, Thursday, April 17, 2019, and is reprinted here with permission. Recently we reported on problems with Chase Bank now here we are again with Citigroup.

Citigroup Bank
Banks Not Shooting Straight With Truth In Lending To Firearms Companies

USA – -( Citigroup’s getting asked some hard questions about fiscal sanity of their decision to discriminate against firearms businesses and their answers aren’t likely to soothe investors.

Justin Danhof, General Counsel for the National Center Public Policy Research and Free Enterprise Project posed a simple question. “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 referencing Buffett’s 2018 refusal to impose his own political views on investors. The “Oracle of Omaha,” who runs Berkshire Hathaway, rebuffed antagonist Andrew Ross Sorkin when he read a shareholder 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. It was the second time he stated his position. Earlier in 2018, he stated it just as clearly. “I don’t believe in imposing my views on 370,000 employees and a million shareholders. I’m not their nanny on that.”

Invest in Business, Not Politics

It’s telling that one of America’s most successful investors sees injecting corporate virtue signaling into investment and banking issues as losing proposition. It’s not that Warren Buffett is a gun rights champion. He’s a board member of billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety which champions extreme gun control and supported Hillary Clinton for president when she campaigned on a platform of reinstating and expanding the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994.

Buffett sees it as bad business for unaccountable corporate C-Suites to dictate public policy.

Citi’s CEO Michael Corbat tried to field Danhof’s question but stumbled out of the gate. Instead of owning up to a purely political decision, he offered half-truths. Corbat said Citigroup’s policy 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 – wasn’t a Second Amendment threat, rather a “good practice.”

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

If it sounds confusing, it’s because Corbat purposefully was aiming to do so.

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. 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.

Purposefully Misleading

Corbat is purposefully conflating the actions of individual criminals with that of an entire law-abiding industry that serves to provide the means for Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights. Citigroup’s actions, and Corbat’s answers, are a threat. Real solutions to the criminal misuse of guns looks a whole lot more like campaigns to make background checks work as intended by entering all disqualifying records, partnerships with the ATF to prevent “straw purchases” of guns and make firearms retailers less vulnerable to theft and robbery and using enhancing penalties for those who steal guns to commit further crimes in our communities.

You Broke It, We Bought It

The irony here, as Danhof pointed out to Corbat during the shareholder meeting, is Citigroup’s high-rise executives were claiming the gun policy moral high ground by using their financial might to influence public policy while it benefitted from public tax dollars – presumably including those paid by gun owners and firearms manufacturers – that ponied up the $45 billion Citigroup bailout.

“To be clear, the company is impinging on the constitutional rights of some of the very Americans who bailed Citi out after you all made a series of poor business decisions,” he told Citi officials. “Maybe you should have just said ‘thank you,’ instead.”

What’s the Bottom Line?

To the original question, how much money do investors risk losing by this politically-driven decision? Corbat wouldn’t say.

He admitted, “We’ve had people take business from us around the policy,” adding the move hasn’t “cost us a meaningful amount of money.”

But it has. The State of Louisiana barred Citigroup for competing for a $600 million road improvement project for interfering the lawful commerce-in-arms. U.S. Sen Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and U.S. Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas) introduced the Freedom Financing Act (S. 821/H.R. 2019) that would prevent certain big banks from accessing taxpayer-funded insurance if they institute discriminatory policies against the firearms industry.

“Corbat’s admission that Citi has lost business due to its opposition to the Second Amendment is telling. But it’s concerning that he refused to say how much,” Danhof said in a statement. “This proves that Citi made a purely political decision.”

It’s time for banks to focus on banking and let voters weigh in on politics.

Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.

National Shooting Sports FoundationAbout National Shooting Sports Foundation

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 10,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers.

  • 13 thoughts on “Banks Not Shooting Straight With Truth In Lending To Firearms Companies

    1. For many years I have dealt with credit unions, Bank of America, Chase, USAA, and Wells Fargo.

      I could write books on the back stabbing that I have seen Bank of America do.
      I have been most impressed by and with Wells Fargo.

    2. How about dealing with smaller, local banks – or even Credit Unions? Most of them are competitive with the ‘big guys’ and often, since they’re local, they’ll be willing to work with you on finances. Most importantly, since they’re smaller and local, you can generally reach the decision-makes to get their policies related to 2A issues.

      I gave up on Bank of America for my business several years ago and am very happy with my local service.

      Just a thought.

    3. CitiBank is going on the list of businesses to avoid and/or leave! I am looking for a list of pro and anti 2A groups, institutions and businesses. Does anyone have this list? The NRA probably has some of this listed. RH

    4. Amusing to ponder this… huge banks determining that they can discriminate against individuals and businesses that handle products THEY do not like. (but which, together with the possession anduse of which, are constitutionally protected)… so they pull the financial services rug out from underneath them at will. Meanwhile, when a baker decides HE cannot in good conscnience, participate in an activity that is NOT constitutinally protected but IS counter to the faith he has held strongly all his life. COme on, Mister Banker, no one is DEMANDING you buy ME guns, or that you join us for a weekend out at the canyon to do some shooting and eating..

      Nannyism i overdrive. Opt out.

    5. Find a local or regional credit union. Make sure they are part of the “shared branching” network AND that the ATM card they will issue you can be used to make cash and check deposits anywhere on that netword.

      Credit unions are much smaller, locally accountable, run by folks in YOUR community, accoutnable tho their MEMBERS (not “customers). Their interest paid on deposits is higher than nearly any normal bank, most have no fee accounts, even for businesses, almost all are federally insured, and with the nationwide Shared Branching I can, and have, conducted normal banking all across the country. There is NEVER any fee associated with using the ATM card in a Shared Branching machine, and many Shared Branching locations will take care of MY business over the counter just as if I was into my own local branch back home. Their interest rates on loans and credit cards are generaly much lower than any of the “Too Big to Fail or LIsten” banking cartels.

      And if a given CU does not invest members’ funds in a way that suits you, talk to them, or move to the one across town.

    6. Still hoping someone here can come up with a banks name who supports us. I’ll look into Well’s Fargo but they’ve had some problems of their own. I know in the past I had closed accounts with 5th 3rd bank because they had backed Mayor Daleys Chicago gun buy back.

    7. So I currently bank with Chase, unfortunately, but am having trouble finding a definite and proven pro 2A bank to switch to. Does anyone know of a good ole American constitution supporting bank to switch to? I seen one person mention Wells Fargo doesn’t play the anti gun game, but I haven’t been able to find information to verify this, or any other banks stance on 2A. It would seem that if even one bank came out and showed blatant patriotic support for 2A and gun owners all followed suit and transferred their money to this banking institution whose core values align with theirs, the American banking conglomerate as we know it would be forced to either change their tune on infringing on our rights, or better yet, just be forced out of business outright, thus seceding their overwhelmingly powerful control on our daily lives in society. This, seemingly, would have the potential of proving only beneficial to any and all Americans… irrelevant of their bank account being big, small, or if they haven’t one at all! Does anyone have a good suggestion as to which pro 2A bank to switch to? Anyone at all? Bueller… Bueller…? Lmao No, but sincerely… any help, advice, opinions, or recommendations on the matter, would be GREATLY APPRECIATED! Not only by me, but I’d also imagine by the others who are, or soon will be, seeking new banking institutions with comparably aligned core values, after reading this article.


    8. Wells Fargo doesn’t play this game and they finance gun and ammo businesses.
      We need Republicans to make a bank called Republican Bank and all of us bank with them because they support our ethics and the constitution.
      When Macy’s pulled thier games on President Trump, I paid off my card and canceled my account. If we would just ban and work together we could fix this problem.
      The new tea party proved it was possible in todays atmosphere.

    9. Larry,
      Many thanks to you and NSSF for trying to correct the financial discrimination.
      It is ironic.
      FFL businesses subject themselves to federal scrutiny to obtain a license, and are then victims of discrimination by financial institutions.

    10. While any “investors” are fleeing from Citigroup, I hope people will remember that all depositors, in every bank in the US, are in the position of an “unsecured creditor”. This is the very worst type of ‘investment’.
      No return, and dead last in line to get their funds if the bank closes for any reason. people THINK that the money in their account is theirs, but it’s not. You give it to the bank, and it becomes theirs, in exchange for an unsecured debt against the bank, that nowadays doesn’t even pay interest. The very worst financial position to be in. Luckily for the banks, very few realize this, or they wouldn’t willingly participate in their own fleecing.
      There is a reason that when banks close on a normal work day to steal their depositors funds, they call it a “bank holiday”. Because it’s a very great day… for them.

      1. Ken,
        What are you talking about?
        Bank deposits are insured by the FDIC to $250,000
        If the bank goes out of business the Federal government will give you your money back to that limit.
        If you are lucky enough to have more than that in cash, spread it around to different banks, each one gets that limit separately.

        1. Yes sir a couple of keystrokes on the computer and your money is magically replaced! Can you really believe that the money will have any value?

        2. @ Docduracoat I agree with you and if there are two people listed on the account then there is $500,000 of FDIC coverage. I always make sure any banking institution I deal with is in the FDIC.
          I was waiting for the punch line of what Ken was saying, but it didn’t materialize.

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