Financial firms could not cut ties to firearms clients under GOP bill

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WASHINGTON — Two Republican senators introduced a bill Thursday legislation aimed at preventing banks and credit unions from cutting off service to legal firearms businesses.

Sens. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and John Kennedy, R-La., are sponsoring the Freedom Financing Act, which they say ensures that financial institutions cannot deny service to certain constitutionally protected industries that are fully compliant with all laws and statutes.

The legislation comes after a string of mass shootings prompted some large institutions, including Bank of America and Citigroup, to curtail business with customers associated with the firearms industry.

“A small number of banks controlling most of the financial sector could effectively illegalize legal commerce by refusing to finance certain industries or process certain transactions,” Cramer said in a press release. “Look no further than pro-Second Amendment industries where such discrimination has already occurred. Big banks should not be the arbiters of constitutionality.”

Kennedy has long pushed back against institutions that restricted services to the firearms industry. At one point, he even opposed proposals to ease the Volcker Rule’s regulations for banks with such restrictions.

“This legislation will ban big banks from refusing to do business with customers that may not share the same political values as the bank,” Kennedy said in the press release. “This kind of power move is an unfair assertion of dominance by the big banks, which is why it should be illegal.”

The legislation, which is focused on firearms, ammunition and sporting goods industries, would exempt financial institutions with less than $10 billion in assets. “The intent is not to force financial institutions to do business with certain industries,” according to the press release.

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Regulatory reform Risk management Finance, investment and tax-related legislation Senate Banking Committee Bank of America Citigroup