Corporate America: Legal Discrimination Against Guns?

Posted by on June 29, 2018 2:59 pm
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Categories: Column 1

Thinking of getting into the firearms business? Thanks to Corporate America, specifically the banking industry and major retailers, it may be harder than you think. Make no mistake, this is a direct assault to the future of your Second Amendment rights!

Man in business suit with a thumbs down gesture

The banks are not alone as corporations have changed their policies and appointed themselves as the new nanny state.

Small gunmakers, retailers, and gunsmiths have all been targeted by financial institutions. Although the banks were fine with them when 2A companies signed up and deposited their money, the banks have done a 180, citing the connection to firearms as a violation of the financial institution’s policies. This refusal to do business includes processing credit card transactions.

The banks are not alone. Other corporations have also changed their policies and appointed themselves as the new nanny state. While Second Amendment advocates have been successful in blocking anti Second Amendment legislation in government, we have had less success with financial institutions such as Bank of America when it stopped providing financing to companies that manufacture AR-style guns, and retailers such as Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods when they imposed age restrictions on gun purchases or stopped carrying certain types of firearms.

This has led many in the firearms industry to call for additional protections under the law in an effort to prevent any industry or business from being discriminated or retaliated against.

“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.”

Congressional Action

Senate Banking Committee Chairman, Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) recently sent a letter criticizing Bank of America and Citigroup for severing business relations and closing the accounts of businesses that manufacture or sell firearms or accessories. “We should all be concerned if banks like yours seek to replace legislators and policy makers and attempt to manage social policy by limiting access to credit,” Crapo wrote to Citigroup’s chief executive.

Case In Point

Honor Defense is a relative newcomer to the firearms scene and employs a small handful of people. In 2016, during its first year production, honor Defense sold approximately 7,500 firearms. However, Honor Defense quickly noted a problem. Stripe and Intuit both refused to process payments. Honor Defense submitted a complaint with Georgia’s attorney general’s office, counting on protection under a state law prohibiting discrimination against the gun industry by financial service firms. However, the state rejected Honor Defense’s complaint. According to the State of Georgia, credit card processing is not considered a ‘financial service’ under state law.

The banks are not the only businesses with ‘discrimination guilt’ written into their current business policies. Let’s remember, Delta and United Airlines stopped offering discounted fares to NRA members, as did rental car companies including Hertz, Alamo, and National. Along those same lines, but perhaps less vocally, the First National Bank of Omaha, one of the nation’s largest privately held banks, decided not to renew a co-branded Visa credit card with the NRA.

The bias does not stop there! While Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods both decided they would no longer sell so-called ‘assault weapons’ or firearms to people under age 21, REI—an outdoor sporting goods chain that never sold firearms or ammunitions—publicly announced its decision to stop selling items such as ski goggles, water bottles, and bike helmets made by companies such as Vista Outdoors, subsidiary to ATK and Savage Arms, who manufacture ammunition and firearms. Guilt by association…

Conclusion

Proponents of the free market would, and perhaps should, conclude that a business has a right to choose with whom it does business. The Supreme Court tepidly broached the subject with recent rulings, but it did not conclusively rule one way or the other, sending the cases back to the lower courts. However, I do not see how we can conclude anything other than the fact that ‘Big Business’ has weighed the potential negatives and concluded that activism against the Second Amendment is more of a benefit to their businesses than a negative.

“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,” said Larry Keane, senior vice president and legal counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gunmakers. “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.” Yet, it would appear that there has not been a big enough ground swell of opposition from gun owners, to deter the discriminatory business practices of any of these anti Second Amendment companies… yet.

What do you think of the actions of Corporate America? Will corporate discrimination be allowed to continue? How will the next Supreme Court Justice tip the balance in future business discrimination cases? Share your answers in the comment section.


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