The Obama administration has directed the Department of Justice to pressure the banking industry not to do business with firearms dealers.
In its newest Big Brother initiative, the agency has launched Operation Choke Point, a credit card fraud investigation into banks and their payment processors, according to The Hill.
“We’re being threatened with a regulatory regime that attempts to foist on us the obligation to monitor all types of transactions, predicated on the notion that the banks are a choke point for all businesses,” American Bankers Association Senior Vice President Richard Riese told the Washington Times.
The financial squeeze has forced the banks to cut back their business dealings with mom-and-pop gun dealers, parts manufacturers and retail stores, cutting their credit lines, freezing their assets or dropping their accounts.
Calling the operation an “assault on our Second Amendment rights,” Joe Sirochman of American Spirit Arms in Scottsdale, Ariz., told the Times that Bank of America discontinued his account, despite his respectable credit history.
“We are one of the most heavily regulated industries in America,” he said. “We have to ship our guns to another federal licensed dealer for pickup. The people who pick up the rifles have to go through a background check to make sure they don’t have any felonies. You can’t own a gun or pass the background check if you do.”
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Across the nation, increased regulatory pressure on gun dealers and the banks that serve them has reached a tipping point. There’s even a 12-department interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to regulate the industry and ferret out suspicious transactions.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. now considers gun dealers “high risk,” along with porn shops and drug paraphernalia stores, in an effort to pressure banks to scrutinize their customers.
“This administration has very clearly told the banking industry which customers they feel represent ‘reputational risk’ to do business with, so financial institutions are reacting to this extraordinary enforcement arsenal by being ultra-conservative,” attorney Peter Weinstock, who represents several dealers, told the Washington Times
For example, Miami gun retailer T. R. Liberti, owner and operator of Top Gun Firearms Training & Supply, had his online account dropped by BankUnited North America in April, with only a bland explanation attached, according to the Times.
When Bank of America dropped the McMillan Group International of Phoenix, owner Kelly McMillan set up a company to handle their online sales.
“Four generations of my family have been in this industry,” he said. “This is my way to give back.”
Republican congressmen call Operation Choke Point another example of the Obama administration’s attempts to stifle an industry it dislikes. Multiple hearings have been held on the matter, with no resolution in sight.
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