A new Trump administration rule prohibits big banks from denying their services to gun manufacturers and other industries that were previously targeted by the Obama administration.
Known as Operation Choke Point, the Obama administration sought to force banks to stop lending or providing other services to industries President Barack Obama and his administration officials didn’t like, such as gun manufacturers and payday lenders. As the Washington Free Beacon’s Stephen Gutowski reported, “Operation Choke Point—coupled with public pressure from gun-control activists—led some of the biggest lenders in the country to drop their clients in the gun industry. Citibank and Bank of America cut ties with gun businesses after warnings from the operation that they could face reputational harm from doing business with legal but disfavored industries.”
Dave Kopel, research director at the Independence Institute, called Operation Choke Point “the banking version of cancel culture” in an interview with the Free Beacon.
The Trump administration ended Operation Choke Point just months after President Donald Trump was inaugurated in 2017, but this new rule from the outgoing administration seeks to prevent future presidents from returning to the days of similar blacklists for legal companies just because a particular administration doesn’t like them.
As Gutowski reported, President-elect Joe Biden has promised “to pursue strict new gun regulations and an adversarial stance toward gun makers.”
More from Gutowski:
Kopel said there is no question gun-control supporters in and outside the Biden administration would continue to pressure banks to deny services to gun-rights advocacy groups and the gun industry at large. He noted the finalization of the rule, however, provides only two avenues for repealing it. Either opponents of the rule can go through the lengthy rulemaking process over again or Congress can repeal the rule within 60 legislative days using the Congressional Review Act.
Using the Congressional Review Act would require a majority of both houses of Congress, which means every Democratic senator would have to vote in favor of it. Kopel said it would be difficult to get more moderate Democrats on board. He said such a legislation battle would provide insight into how aggressively the Biden administration and incoming Democratic majorities will pursue gun control.
“If they do try to do that, it’s a sign that their administration is serious about not just adding regulation but destroying the firearms industry in the United States,” Kopel told the Free Beacon.
The rule comes from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, whose acting lead Brian P. Brooks explained in a statement that “banks should not terminate services to entire categories of customers without conducting individual risk assessments.”
“It is inconsistent with basic principles of prudent risk management to make decisions based solely on conclusory or categorical assertions of risk without actual analysis,” Brooks added, according to Gutowski. “Moreover, elected officials should determine what is legal and illegal in our country.”
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