Gun rights advocates decry DOJ choking gun business finances

Industry leaders said federal regulators have a policy of turning law abiding gun sellers into suspects in an attempt to sabotage on-line gun sales. 

“It is government-sponsored economic terrorism,” said Richard L. Feldman, president of New Hampshire-based Independent Firearm Owners Association.  “It’s bad enough when it’s done by private parties, it is absolutely unacceptable and despicable when it is done at the behest of our own government.”

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R.-Mo.), who is seeking to put a stop to federal funding for “Operation Choke Point”, said in “Blaine’s Bulletin” that federal regulators are targeting intermediate lender-processers in an attempt to take down businesses they believe have no moral right to exist. 

“In an effort to drive these legally-operating, licensed and regulated lenders out of business, banking regulators, in cahoots with the Justice Department, are placing so much regulatory pressure on financial institutions that non-depository lenders are eventually ‘choked-off’ from the financial services they need to survive.”

The trade association for the firearm industry, the National Shooting Sports Foundation said in a statement that several documents have surfaced from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation that labels companies in the firearms and ammunition industry as “high risk.”  As a result of the unfair label, several industry members have had their banking relationships terminated by their lending institutions.

NSSF continued:  “We respect the right of financial institutions to make business decisions based on objective criteria. It is unacceptable, however, to discriminate against businesses simply because they are engaged in the lawful commerce of firearms, an activity protected by the Second Amendment.”

New York gun dealer, Anthony Melé, said his on-line boutique Ami Global Security lost over $50,000 in profit from Jan. through March because intermediate merchants stopped processing on-line orders without notice.  “My credit card orders were accepted, but the processing was being held up.  I realized something was wrong when I started receiving emails from my customers’ complaining.”

He said it took about a week for his bank to figure out the problem: The DOJ issued a directive that forbids intermediate merchants from processing funds that have any relation to guns and ammunition. “There was nothing I was doing that was illegal, yet they made me feel like I was operating illegally.”

Melé said he had to change his business model to pursue oversees sales because he could not find anyone to process on-line orders.  “They rather err on the side of caution than be scrutinized by the full force and effect of the federal government.”

Feldman, who is the author of “Ricochet: Confessions of a gun lobbyist” and a former staffer in the Reagan White House, said the policy that unlawfully targets law abiding citizens is unconscionable.

“They suspect someone, somewhere, may be conducting something illegal, therefore if you end all commerce legal or illegal on the basis that someone may be doing something illegal, you will end it because everybody is being rounded up and everyone is going to be guilty because someone may be guilty somewhere.”

When there is a suspicion of illegal activity, the government is applauded to act, but he said they act on facts not a broad-base allegation.  “They are supposed to act on facts not suspicion, and specific facts about specific activities, not suspicion about an industry for a lawful practice.”

Firearms are a constitutionally-protected product, said the former police officer.  “Absent allegations of illegalities, this is no suspicion.”

If authorities find a particular dealer who is involved in illegal action, we expect them to act, said Feldman.  “But on the suspicion that anybody who is dealing firearms using the internet as a sales tool becomes automatically suspect, then the federal government falls under the category of: despicable, outrageous, and repugnant.”