An anti-gun group is pressuring financial institutions to limit financial dealings with gun makers and rights groups. (Dave Workman)
The New York Times has reported on a tactic now being used by a gun control group calling itself Guns Down America that pressures banking institutions into withholding financial support of gun makers, rights group and pro-Second Amendment politicians.
Guns Down America acknowledges on its website that it “is moving our country toward a future with fewer guns by running campaigns to weaken the gun industry, the gun lobby, and the lawmakers who support them.” The organization, which has a Washington, D.C. telephone number, a website and Facebook page, describes itself as, “a bolder, broader movement calling for dramatically fewer guns in America, and for making them dramatically harder to get.”
According to the NY Times, Guns Down America was created in 2016. The group “has created a ranking system that gives 15 banks letter grades based primarily on their ties to firearms makers and trade groups like the National Rifle Association.”
Among the half-dozen banks that have gotten failing grades are Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, the article said. On the other hand, Citigroup got high marks.
Whether the group is having much of an impact depends upon perspective. In 2018, according to raw data from the FBI’s National Instant Check System, the agency performed the second-highest number of background checks in its history, with 26,181,936 NICS checks initiated. That was second only to 2016, which set a record—perhaps because of that year’s race for the White House in which most pundits were predicting that anti-gun Hillary Rodham Clinton would win—of 27,538,673 initiated checks.
Last month, there were 2,644,851 background checks reported. The FBI is always careful to add this caveat: “These statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS. They do not represent the number of firearms sold. Based on varying state laws and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale.”
In the Times report, Guns Down founder Igor Volsky insisted that is group is “not interested in shaming banks or running a campaign focused on how evil they are. Our end goal is to change the way banks make decisions when doing business with the gun industry.”
However, that may be a matter of viewpoint. The NY Times story noted, “The group used a 100-point scale that applied different weights to factors like a bank’s loans to and investments in gun makers; its public statements about gun safety; its support for lawmakers backed by the N.R.A.; and the discounts and deals it offers to N.R.A. members.”
But pro-rights politicians are fighting back. Last month, Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced the Freedom Financing Act. It is designed to prevent large financial institutions from denying service to “constitutionally-protected industries that are fully compliant with all laws and statutes,” according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which reported about the bill, S. 821.
There is a companion measure in the House, H.R. 2079, sponsored by Congressman Roger Williams (R-TX).