It’s been a rough year for gun companies, the NRA, and the Second Amendment as a whole. Parkland was just the last straw in a lot of people’s minds, and now things have ramped up to the point where the firearm community has been back on its heels.
As if that isn’t enough, though, over at the National Review, they make an interesting case for how the financial pressure on the Second Amendment–pressure which has made life difficult for the firearm industry over the last year–may be about to ramp up to a whole new level.
California Democrat Maxine Waters is the new chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee. To judge from the party’s past behavior and the various proposals emanating from the left, Waters’s Democrats are going to pressure banks, credit unions, and payment companies to severely curtail and even terminate their relationships with firearm manufacturers, licensed gun retailers, and law-abiding citizens exercising their right to purchase and own firearms. In other words, they will use political pressure to force private institutions into creating social policy that threatens constitutional rights.
In 2013, senior banking officials at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, with support from the Department of Justice, forced banks to dissolve their relationship with “high-risk” businesses the Obama administration found objectionable or face federal investigations, despite the legality of the businesses. Known as Operation Choke Point, the effort targeted industries including “firearms and ammunition sales, adult entertainment, check cashing, and short-term lending,” according to a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Without a complicit administration, Democrats in Congress will likely assume the role of pressuring financial institutions to cease transactions with businesses they deem unsavory, with the firearms community at the top of their list. Senate Democrats have already made this pressure explicit. Last year, Senator Brian Schatz penned a series of nine letters addressed to global payment companies, insisting they play a role in policing firearms and related products their customers are legally eligible to purchase. Seven additional Senate Democrats joined him.
Author James Setterlund goes on to mention Andrew Ross Sorkin, a writer who has urged credit card companies to monitor people’s gun buying behavior.
To be clear, here, this kind of pressure doesn’t actually require Democrats to hold the Senate. The threat of a hearing is a real threat. The House’s investigative power is real, and it’s a real pain in the butt for financial institutions. This creates an incentive to do as they’re told to avoid the threat of such an investigation.
Especially since no large company is squeaky clean. Even if there’s no malicious intent at the top, there are so many laws on the books and so many people expected to follow them that 100 percent compliance isn’t physically possible.
Ayn Rand once said, “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” Well, there are so damn many laws that banks are bound to break a few, even accidentally.
They know it.
So Waters and company will likely use that fact to pressure banks into doing things that will make life far more difficult for the firearms industry.
I’d love to see Setterlund’s prediction be wrong, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.
If you thought 2018 was a wild ride, buckle up. It ain’t over yet.