Georgia Lawmakers: Financial Institutions Can't Discriminate Against Gun Shops

A bill passed by the General Assembly prohibits members of the financial-services industry from refusing service to a gun shop—something that has been happening across the country since 2013 thanks to a federal mandate.

This story from jacksonville.com says House Bill 1060, sponsored by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro), is a response to a strategy of the U.S. Department of Justice to pressure lenders to not do business with firearms dealers, known as Operation Choke Point.

From the story: "Since the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from halting gun sales, the Obama administration reportedly is trying to choke off the firearms industry by stopping the flow of capital any business needs."

The story says the witness testimony during the legislative committee hearing revealed that even getting a checking account for a gun shop can be difficult because of the federal program, the story says.

The bill is headed to Gov. Nathan Deal, who has 40 days to sign it into law.

On a national level, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has been pushing legislation in several states that would offer protection for businesses “engaged in the lawful commerce of firearms or ammunition products” for the past three years.

This story from ljworld.com says the NSSF launched efforts in the past year seeking to restrict discrimination by financial institutions based on many stories from people like Andrew Clyde, a Georgia gun shop owner, who was notified by his credit card-processing company that they were discontinuing his corporate account because he "no longer met our underwriting guidelines" and that he got the same story from three other companies.

With Georgia’s efforts moving along, similar legislation is being considered in Kansas, Alabama, and Missouri, (though there has been no recent action in the latter two) all the result of actions initiated by the NSSF with efforts beginning in 2013 when the DOJ launched Operation Choke Point, which lumps firearms dealers into so-called “high-risk industry for fraud,” like pornography.

The program actually ended last year, when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation sent a letter to banks informing them to take a risk-based approach instead of denying services, but the NSSF says gun retailers and manufacturers are still reporting what they say is discrimination, according to the story.

NSSF spokesman Trevor Santos said Monday that there was no evidence the firearms industry was high risk. He said underlying insurance guidelines that suggested as much were "put there because they don't want to do business with the firearms industry."