By: Robert Davis
In the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting, many U.S. companies enacted new policies restricting the sale of firearms. Citigroup, a banking and financial services firm, just added its name to the list by telling its retail business partners to prohibit the sale of firearms to customers younger than 21 and to those who have not passed a background check.
“The new policy … also bars the sale of bump stocks and high-capacity magazines,” The New York Times reported. “It would apply to clients who offer credit cards backed by Citigroup or borrow money, use banking services or raise capital through the company.”
“We want to do our part as a company to prevent firearms from getting into the wrong hands. So our new policy centers around current firearms sales best practices that will guide those we do business with as a firm,” Citigroup wrote in a statement.
Other major companies that have adopted firearms restrictions include Kroger, Walmart, L.L. Bean, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Outdoor retailer REI said it would halt orders from certain brands, including CamelBak water carriers, Giro helmets, and Camp Chef stoves, whose parent company also makes ammunition and rifles.
“We don’t pretend that these answers are perfect, but as we looked at the things we thought we could influence, we felt that, working with our clients, we could make a difference,” Citigroup CEO Michael L. Corbat told the Times. “Banks serve a societal purpose — we believe our investors want us to do this and be responsible corporate citizens.”
Citigroup has relationships with banks, registered broker-dealers, futures commission merchants, investment advisers, and gun manufacturing companies.
“[We will be] initiating due diligence conversations on the subject to better understand what products they make, what markets and retailers they sell to and what sales practices those retailers follow,” the company said.
Citigroup said it will work with partners that refuse to comply with the new restrictions to “transition their business away.”
Michael Hammond, legislative counsel to Gun Owners of America (GOA), says he and his organization will work to limit Citigroup’s ability to restrict people’s Second Amendment rights.
"I can say thing, that Citigroup, particularly right now, would like the House to pass legislation – it already passed the Senate – that would modify Dodd-Frank with respect to the powers of the banks," Hammond told Gunpowder Magazine. "I can tell you that I will do my very best to ensure that if that legislation moves, it contains a rider which prevents financial institutions which benefit from it from discriminating against any person based on his exercise of his Second Amendment rights. Two can play that game. If Citigroup wants to influence social policy, they shouldn’t be surprised if Congress comes along and says, ‘Well, we’re really responsible for dealing with Second Amendment issues, so, we’re going to put restrictions on you in that respect.”
Hammond says it’s possible GOA will file lawsuits in a few states.
“With respect to Dick’s, it depends," Hammond said. "In places like Oregon, you’re prohibited from discriminating against people based on the fact that they’re 18, 19, or 20, so in those cases, yeah, we’d support litigation. Our country sort of reached a decision during the Nixon administration that it was going to view 18-year-olds as adults for purposes of probably the most important responsibility they have, and that’s the responsibility of voting. So if we are saying an 18-year-old is an adult, how is it we are now saying, ‘Yes, but they don’t have constitutional rights’? We may very well litigate in Florida and Oregon and elsewhere.
“In the very least," Hammond added, "we’re encouraging people that if large retailers think they’re too large to have any regard for the Constitution, that perhaps they should take their business to smaller retailers who would welcome their business and don’t have similar compunctions.”
Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, says the actions of Citigroup and others won’t result in their professed goals.
"These companies’ decisions to limit access to firearms and accessories will do nothing to prevent gun violence, and will certainly do nothing to curb customers’ desires for these products," Brown said. "People will simply shop elsewhere, and companies like Citigroup will find themselves losing business to competitors who actually value the Second Amendment."
Robert Davis is a journalist from Colorado. He covers defensive gun use and Second Amendment litigation for Gunpowder Magazine. Contact him at [email protected].