GOP senators want to force banks to finance the gun industry


A pair of Republican senators introduced a bill that would force big banks to do business with the gun industry.

So much for letting the free market be.

GOP Sens. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota and John Kennedy of Louisiana introduced a bill on Thursday that would force major banks to do business with the gun industry or else face punishments like restricting their access to discounted Federal Reserve loans.

"A small number of banks controlling most of the financial sector could effectively illegalize legal commerce by refusing to finance certain industries or process certain transactions," Cramer said in a news release. "Look no further than pro-Second Amendment industries where such discrimination has already occurred. Big banks should not be the arbiters of constitutionality."

The bill is a response to moves by two major banks — Citigroup and Bank of America — that decided to take matters in their own hands on gun control thanks to Republican inaction after numerous mass shootings.

In response to the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Citigroup announced in March 2018 that its business customers who either didn't pass background checks or were not over the age of 21 could not purchase weapons. Citigroup also banned business customers from buying bump stocks and high-capacity magazines.

Shortly after Citigroup's move, Bank of America announced it would stop lending to companies that manufacture military-style guns for civilian use.

Gun control groups, such as former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' organization, have lauded moves like the ones from Citigroup, Bank of America and others like Dicks Sporting Goods, which have made strategic business decisions on guns in the wake of mass shootings.

After those announcements, the gun lobby demanded Congress pass legislation punishing these banks for their moves.

And it appears both Cramer and Kennedy took notice, tossing aside Republican free-market principles in order to do the National Rifle Association's bidding and punish Citibank and Bank of America for their gun rules.

It's clear to see why Cramer and Kennedy did what the NRA asked.

The NRA has bankrolled both men, spending $123,822 for Kennedy's 2016 election and a smaller $1,522 to support Cramer's Senate bid in 2018, according to data from OpenSecrets.

"I don't think we should be startled by the fact that when corporate interests give tens of millions of dollars to our president — and lesser amounts to senators members of Congress and local officials — that the people who donated that money will expect certain things to happen," David Chipman, a senior policy adviser for Giffords' group, said in an interview.

Still, trying to dictate what private industry can and can't do is decidedly not a Republican principle.

"It’s quite clear that the Republican Party for years has been very concerned about insuring that the corporate world has free reign to do what’s best for their business," Chipman said. "And the thought that two Republican senators are pushing forward a bill that would block businesses from doing what’s best for their business model is quite extraordinary."

Yet when it comes to abortion rights, protections for LGBT Americans, and now, apparently, gun control, the GOP has proven it's willingness to abandon those principles and force private industry to do what Republicans want.

It's yet another hypocritical action from the GOP.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.