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Self-imposed gun control?
Wed., March 14 marks the one-month anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. In the wake of the Parkland shooting, New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin suggested that the financial services industry stop doing business with gun dealers. Since then, protesters have urged VISA to follow Sorkin's advice, online lender Kabbage has stopped serving gun shops, and several companies have cut ties with the National Rifle Association.

As schools in Florida hold special remembrance events one month after the tragedy and students across the country stage mass walkouts, we asked financial institution executives to weigh in on Sorkin's proposal that the industry contribute toward gun-control efforts by refusing to serve gun dealers. Among the leaders we talked with are two headquartered near Parkland – including one whose chief financial officer has children attending MSD High School and were there (but unharmed) on the day of the shooting. Here's what they had to say about Sorkin's idea.
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Allan Prindle, President and CEO of Power Financial Credit Union, Pembroke Pines, Fla.
The youngest daughter of Power Financial Credit Union's chief financial officer was on campus at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at the time of the Parkland shooting. She survived with no injuries. After hearing about Sorkin's proposal on CNBC, Power Financial CEO Allan Prindle brought the idea to his credit union board.

The board unanimously agreed that to unilaterally make decisions on how members should spend their money was not the way to go. While it would demonstrate support for some, it would likely deeply offend many others.

Instead, the board pointed to our recent actions that sent a clear message of our solidarity with the business of healing after the horrific event. The board and employees of Power Financial Credit Union have personally taken action, both on an individual basis and as a united team, to strongly demonstrate our support for those impacted by the Parkland tragedy.

Just as an example, as I mentioned, both of our CFO’s children attend Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, her daughter being a freshman and the incident took place in her building. We had a direct line to ask what we could do that would make a difference. The pressing need was for school supplies, motivational posters, etc., as many teachers had to relocate to new classrooms and start from scratch. We rose to the occasion and provided two pallets of supplies and our CFO made sure they were put to good use.
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Pat Hickman, CEO of Happy State Bank, Happy, Texas
We are not in the business of picking winners and losers. This is a legislative matter. We had the same issue with Operation Chokepoint when the government decided we couldn’t do business with fireworks businesses. They then turned towards cash checkers … The financial industry is so highly regulated now. Why would we self-impose new regulations? Simply put, I’m not going to let my dog get in this hunt.
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Pat Mason, President and CEO of Sun Credit Union, Hollywood, Fla.
There was no direct affect to anyone at our credit union, though I know a teacher there and she said she was happy that she had her kids secure their laptops before leaving what they considered to be a fire drill. That prevented them from being in the hallway when the shooting began.

I don’t think it’s workable. You have manufacturers like Remington and others that make a variety of firearms, whether they be rifles, hunting rifles or side arms … But when you have law-abiding individuals that are looking for a personal weapon [and] then they can’t use their credit card, I don’t know how workable that is.
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Keith Mestrich, CEO of Amalgamated Bank, New York, N.Y.
Amalgamated Bank supports sensible gun control and is looking at anything and everything we can do as an institution to have a positive impact on this issue. Payment processors and big national banks have the opportunity to make a huge difference by refusing to work with businesses that sell assault weapons, bump stocks, and the like (which Amalgamated already does not do). We absolutely think these are ideas for the industry to seriously consider. We have always believed that banks and financial institutions have important roles to play in contributing to society in a responsible way – and we’ve acted accordingly. The issue of gun control is just one of the many where we believe our industry should put our heads together and examine how we can make a real difference. We hope others in the industry will agree and act.
Linda Levy, CEO of Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union
Linda Levy, President and CEO of Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union, New York, N.Y.
When Levy first heard about Sorkin's idea, she considered raising it with her board. Levy's credit union has been involved in political issues in the past from banking Occupy Wall Street to suing President Trump over his interim pick for CFPB director.

I read the New York Times online every day, so whenever they first posted [Sorkin's column] is when I read it. My first thoughts were that it was a great idea. I assume we would write a policy that stated we do not open accounts for gun dealers, and circulate it among staff. I honestly have no idea how many gun dealers there are in NYC, but we have never had one attempt to open an account with us.

I did not raise it with my board, in the end. It didn’t seem very pressing.
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