Banks have decided to clamp down on financing gun purchases, and Republicans in Congress are trying to stop them:
When Congress decided not to take significant action after a spate of mass shootings this year and last, some big banks opted to take matters into their own hands by restricting financing for gun sellers.
Now, Republican lawmakers are pressing regulators to stop banks from doing so, over concerns they are veering too far into social activism.
“If you’re going to turn us into a nation of red banks and blue banks, you’re making a mistake,” Senator John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican and member of the banking committee, said in a recent interview before the latest shooting. “Don’t come crying to us when you screw up and you want the American taxpayer to bail you out.”
Mr. Kennedy said he planned to file complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau against banks that are effectively restricting gun sales by setting their own rules on legal products and refusing to do business with gun makers and retailers that do not comply. He is also working to get Republican colleagues to join him in writing legislation to stop banks from discriminating against gun buyers.
Major banks have taken a series of steps this year to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. They are restricting their credit card and banking services to gun retailers and halting lending to gun makers that do not comply with age limits and background check rules determined by the banks. They are also freezing out businesses that sell high-capacity magazines and “bump stocks,” attachments that enable semiautomatic rifles to fire faster, even though such products are legal under federal law.
Gun advocates have viewed the moves as a direct assault on the industry.
Gun lobbyists that usually direct their resources at attacking Democrats have now jumped into the fray to take on banks, pressing Republican lawmakers to use their influence to make the banks back down.