Conservative group takes aim at Wall Street in report claiming big banks have undercut firearms industry

Gun Rights

FIRST ON FOX — A conservative group is calling out the largest and most influential institutions on Wall Street for allegedly discriminating against the firearms industry and, in their view, working to “undermine America’s constitutional right to keep and bear arms.” 

The American Accountability Foundation (AAF) in a new report highlights how some of the biggest names on Wall Street — including Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and Bank of America — have allegedly used their control over capital to undercut firearms manufacturers, retailers and organizations representing lawful gun owners.

“Over the last decade, significant media attention has been paid to the left’s obsession with using banks and asset managers to end fossil fuels. Unfortunately, very little attention has been given on the left’s use of certain banks to chip away at legal private ownership and use of firearms,” the AAF Research Team writes in a memo shared with FOX Business. 

You Might Like

“Unfortunately, law-abiding Americans who exercise their 2nd amendment rights have a proverbial bullseye on their backs placed there, in large part, by certain banks and their left-wing comrades who are wanting to undermine Americans’ constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” AAF states.

REPUBLICAN AGS DEMAND WELLS FARGO ANSWER FOR ABRUBTLY CLOSING GUN DEALER’S ACCOUNT, OTHER WOKE POLICIES

NRA member holding Smith & Wesson pistol

National Rifle Association members look over pistols in the Smith & Wesson display at the 146th NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits on April 29, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

In the report, titled “Debanked by the Banks,” the group points to policies adopted by large financial institutions that have cut off firearms-related groups from access to capital and lines of credit.

AAF cites how Bank of America, for example, in 2018 announced that it would stop lending money to gun manufacturers that make certain “military-inspired” rifles for civilian use, like the AR-15, which have been used in multiple mass shootings, according to the New York Times. 

“We want to contribute in any way we can to reduce these mass shootings,” Bank of America Vice Chair Anne Finucane said at the time. 

The “Debanked” memo also notes how Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase reportedly pressured business software company Intuit to enact a policy that forbade gun manufacturers and sellers from using its accounting program, QuickBooks. An oversight investigation led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, revealed that Intuit had a policy that prohibited “guns and firearms manufacturing” from receiving QuickBook’s payroll services. That policy has since been reversed. 

SMITH & WESSON OFFICIALLY MOVES HEADQUARTERS OUT OF BLUE STATE TO TENNESSEE

Front of a Bank of America building

The Bank of America logo is displayed on the side of a Bank of America branch office in San Francisco, California. Bank of America in 2018 announced that it would no longer lend money to gun manufacturers that make AR-15-style rifles.  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images / Getty Images)

The Senate Commerce Committee held a briefing on the matter in 2023 where JPMorgan acknowledged it was the source of the services policy. 

A JPMorgan spokesperson previously told FOX Business, “For any third-party processors that process payments in aggregate, we are unable to perform the due diligence expected by regulators for several highly-regulated industries, including internet firearms retailers, so we cannot process such payments for these processors. Any such merchants can look to work directly with us rather than through a third-party processor. We do allow payments to be processed through these processors for brick and mortar firearms retailers.

Bank of America did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BAC BANK OF AMERICA CORP. 36.97 +1.21 +3.38%
GS THE GOLDMAN SACHS GROUP INC. 404.07 +0.84 +0.21%
WFC WELLS FARGO & CO. 60.35 +1.61 +2.75%
C CITIGROUP INC. 59.14 +0.82 +1.41%
JPM JPMORGAN CHASE & CO. 185.80 +4.66 +2.57%
COF CAPITAL ONE FINANCIAL CORP. 142.91 +1.22 +0.86%
AMAL AMALGAMATED BANK 22.46 +0.91 +4.22%

The AAF report mentions how other major financial institutions have taken steps in recent years to mitigate the reputational risk of their companies by distancing themselves from the firearms industry.

Since at least 2018, Goldman Sachs policy forbids the firm from investment in gun manufacturers, CNBC reported. CEO David Solomon has publicly stated that Goldman Sachs doesn’t work with companies that make assault weapons, bump stocks and high-capacity magazines.

“We do business with retailers who sell guns, but we are thinking about what we should do and how we can contribute to this debate,” Solomon told CNN in 2019, after a gunman killed 22 people and wounded 24 others in a shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

Goldman Sachs was unavailable for comment. 

INTUIT REVERSES DECISION TO BAN GUN COMPANIES FROM USING SERVICES

That same year, Citigroup announced a U.S. Commercial Firearms Policy that required senior partners and clients to adhere to best practices, including that they don’t sell firearms to someone who hasn’t passed a background check; restrict the sale of firearms for individuals under 21 years of age who have not completed a firearms safety training course; and don’t sell bump stocks or high-capacity magazines. 

“We respect the Second Amendment. Our policy does not prohibit us doing business with the firearms industry and, in fact, we are doing business with retail outlets that sell firearms,” a Citigroup spokesperson told FOX Business. 

Citibank logo sign

A Citibank branch in San Francisco, California. Citigroup Inc. has a “Commercial Firearms Policy” for firearms sales best practices it requires partners and senior clients to adhere to.  (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

More recently, Wells Fargo has drawn the attention of Republican attorneys general after the bank abruptly closed the business and personal accounts of Brandon Wexler, the owner of Florida-based firearms dealer Wex Gunworks. The bank gave a vague explanation for its action, telling Wexler, “Banking guidelines excludes lending to certain types of businesses,” according to The Reload.

Last month, attorneys general from 15 states wrote to Wells Fargo demanding an explanation for the debanking. 

“Wells Fargo is pushing the Biden administration’s anti-gun and anti-traditional energy policies and discriminating against customers who don’t fall in line with their political beliefs,” Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen told Fox News Digital. 

Wells Fargo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

FIRST-TIME GUN OWNERS TOTALED AT LEAST 5.4M IN 2021, GROUP SAYS

Gun control advocacy groups have put pressure on American banks to cut business ties with the firearms industry. In 2019, Guns Down America launched a campaign called “Is Your Bank Loaded,” which assigned a letter grade to big banks based on their relationships with gun owners groups like the National Rifle Association and financial ties to firearms manufacturers or retailers. 

“This campaign was an effort to inform consumers about their bank’s involvement in the firearms industry, and hold those banks accountable to their promises to help end gun violence,” said Hudson Munoz, executive director for Guns Down America in a statement. 

Munoz criticized the AAF report, which he said “barely qualifies as research” and is “devoid of any critical analysis of the firearms industry as it relates to banking.” 

He said that banks have taken “appropriate steps” to manage investment risks inherent to the firearms industry, which by nature are “not good clients.” 

handguns on sale

 Assorted pistols on display that customers can rent to use on the range at Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly, Va., on January 9, 2015.  (Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images / Getty Images)

“From a reputational perspective, gun makers have created an environment of intense scrutiny by manufacturing and marketing inherently dangerous products to civilian consumers. People are fed up and aren’t buying the ruse of individual responsibility — they want to know how killers got their weapon and who made it,” Munoz told FOX Business. 

He added that gun makers are “risky clients” from a business perspective, as well. 

“On the manufacturing side, gun makers are event-driven businesses and see demand increase when social and political tensions rise. They see revenue decline when consumer discretionary income decreases, and they face intense political and legal pressure — again, because they refuse to take ownership of the risk their products create in society. On the retail side, gun sellers handle a lot of cash. That’s a burden for a bank,” Munoz said.  

If banks face a financial risk from investing in the gun industry, they also face a political risk from appearing too hostile towards it. 

GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE   

Actions by big banks to limit work with the gun and fossil fuel industries have incensed Republican lawmakers, who have accused them of siding with the political left. In 2021, Texas lawmakers enacted a law that prohibits government contracts with entities that discriminate against the firearms industry. Last year, Kentucky warned 11 major financial companies, including Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase and BlackRock Inc., of potential divestment over their “boycott” of energy companies.

“Banks should make lending decisions relying on objective, risk-based metrics, not based on what is considered politically favorable,” said Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., a member of the House Financial Services Committee. “Financial Institutions should stick to the business of banking instead of politicizing our financial system to please the Left.” 

Groups like Guns Down America, meanwhile, urge customers to seek institutions that represent their values. 

“The goal is to see financial services consumers pick a bank with policies and public positions that align with the goal of ending gun violence,” Munoz said. 

FOX Business’ Joe Schoffstall and Reuters contributed to this report.

You Might Like

Articles You May Like

NM Clean Car Tax Credits Take Effect
Delhi High Court upholds NRAI’s Olympic selection policy
Trump addresses an embattled NRA as he campaigns against Biden’s gun policies
Sen. Pete Ricketts wins special election primary to finish out Ben Sasse’s term until 2026
WATCH LIVE: Trump speaks at annual NRA meeting in Dallas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *