Gun owners have already seen private discrimination against the industry by private companies, such as, again, ATF’s banker JP Morgan Chase closing the account of Defense Distributed, and credit card reader the Square changing its sellers’ agreement to prohibit firearms-related transactions on its device.
Darrell Issa, Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Jim Jordan, Chair of the Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee, launched a probe Thursday after uncovering evidence the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation pressured banks to terminate accounts with disfavored businesses. Information was requested from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry, a Friday committee press release reports. The purpose of the inquiry is to determine actions by federal banking regulators in the multiple federal agency Operation Choke Point initiative.
“The Federal Reserve Board is the primary supervisor and regulator of bank holding companies and state-chartered banks that are members of the Federal Reserve System,” Issa and Jordan noted in a joint letter. In the course of its investigation of Operation Choke Point, the Committee has learned that federal regulators are pressuring banks to terminate relationships with legal yet disfavored industries, without regard to the legitimacy or risk profile of individual companies.”
While the Issa/Jordan letter focuses on evidence of impropriety involving “payday lenders, pawn shops and dedicated check cashers,” gun owners have seen reason to fear the firearms industry has also been subject to federal targeting to discourage legitimate financial transactions. In April, this column noted how Choke Point focus on closing bank accounts of porn stars just happened to be effected by the same bank that services the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, JP Morgan Chase. A follow-up report in May noted FDIC was also scrutinizing ammunition and firearms sales.