By: Teresa Mull
The new Biden administration just revealed that it does not think big banks should be required to behave fairly.
One of the Trump administration’s last actions was to propose a rule that would require large banks to evaluate businesses seeking loans solely on their financial merits and not their politics. Seems like an obvious modus operandi, but such has not been the case.
On January 14, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC - an arm of the Treasury Department) released its finalized rule to “ensure fair access to banking services provided by large national banks…”
The OCC explained that…
The rule codifies more than a decade of OCC guidance stating that banks should conduct risk assessment of individual customers, rather than make broad-based decisions affecting whole categories or classes of customers, when provisioning access to services, capital, and credit.
“‘Organizations involved in politically controversial but lawful businesses — whether family planning organizations, energy companies, or otherwise — are entitled to fair access to financial services under the law,’ the OCC wrote in the proposal, which specifically cites several cases in which banks have refused services to gunmakers and sellers,” thetrace.org reported.
The policy was good on the surface, giving gun manufacturing companies a fighting chance. But then, just like that, the Biden administration, to no one’s surprise, stepped in and paused the rule from taking effect, which it was set to do on April 1, 2021.
On January 28, the OCC’s website reported the commission had…
…paused publication of its rule to ensure large banks provide all customers fair access to their services.
Pausing publication of the rule in the Federal Register will allow the next confirmed Comptroller of the Currency to review the final rule and the public comments the OCC received, as part of an orderly transition.
Hannah Hill, policy analyst at the National Foundation for Gun Rights, says the Biden administration’s move is a sneaky way of attacking the Second Amendment.
“Blocking this rule – which would have simply prevented banks from rejecting customers based on their political opinions - is a thinly veiled attempt to weaponize the banking industry against the Second Amendment," Hill said. "The Biden/Harris administration is essentially saying ‘sic ‘em’ to the schoolyard bullies of anti-gun and cancel culture society – except that those schoolyard bullies are powerful banks which control access to essential financial services and platforms.
"Giving banks a green light to shut law-abiding gun companies out of the financial industry will have a devastating impact on Americans’ ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”
Teresa Mull (firstname.lastname@example.org) is editor of Gunpowder Magazine.