Pro-gun Senate bill would end discrimination in financial marketplace

Operation Choke Point was just the beginning.

That Obama-era scandal featured federal regulators who used their authority to lean on the banks and payment processors they oversaw to pressure them into severing ties with legal but politically disfavored businesses.

At the time, this concept was still considered shameful and overreaching enough for the agencies involved to claim it was all a big misunderstanding and to issue “corrective” guidance once it was exposed. But to activists in and outside of government, the power of manipulating the financial services industry to achieve their objectives was just too tempting to ignore.

Soon, they were openly calling for banks, credit card companies, and other financial service providers to set terms of service that openly discriminate against lawful firearm-related commerce, as well as other industries demonized by the far left. This makes the reintroduction of the Fair Access to Banking Act, led by U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), all the more timely and welcome.

From 2021: U.S. Rep. Andy Barr introduced similar legislation

Banks, credit cards, payment processors and the like all exist to serve the public and to keep the engine of America’s economy running smoothly. These industries are rightly subjected to government oversight, given the roles they play and the power they wield over the lives of ordinary Americans. But when politics and regulatory abuse infect their decision-making, markets get distorted and law-abiding businesses — often small businesses, in the case of the gun industry — suffer. Sen. Cramer’s bill seeks to shield the economy from manipulation by a small segment of powerful activists and ensure the financial services industry emphasizes objective factors like financial soundness, creditworthiness, and case-by-case risk assessment in its business decisions.

The bill is built around the principles of the Trump Administration’s Fair Access to Banking Rule, which the NRA supported at the time. Joe Biden’s Administration, however, put the finalized rule on indefinite hold, prioritizing politics over basic principles of fairness and non-discrimination. Like the Trump rule, the Cramer bill would require large national banks to provide fair access to all the products they offer to law-abiding customers who are able to satisfy predetermined “quantitative, impartial risk-based standards.” It would prohibit financial service providers from using murky considerations of politics or “reputational risk” to refuse business with creditworthy, law-abiding customers. And it would establish enforcement mechanisms with real teeth to ensure these standards are followed.

Americans who play by the rules and establish viable businesses deserve to know they will not be undercut by discriminatory tactics in the financial marketplace. These illegitimate practices risk the soundness of the American economy, stifle entrepreneurial impulses, and impose extra-legal restraints on Second Amendment activity. The NRA therefore commends Sen. Cramer and the 36 co-sponsors of his bill and commends it for swift action by the Senate.

© 2023 National Rifle Association of America, Institute for Legislative Action. This may be reproduced. This may not be reproduced for commercial purposes.

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