The New York State Department of Financial Services is calling on state-chartered banks and other financial services companies to rethink ties they have with the National Rifle Association and other firearms-industry groups in the wake of recent mass shootings.

The department, which said the directive was ordered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, issued separate guidance to state-regulated insurers and state-regulated banks. The regulator said it was encouraging financial institutions to weigh reputational risk and other corporate responsibility factors in assessing their relationships with groups that promote guns.

"New York may have the strongest gun laws in the country, but we must push further to ensure that gun safety is a top priority for every individual, company, and organization that does business across the state," Cuomo said in a press release.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo
"New York may have the strongest gun laws in the country, but we must push further to ensure that gun safety is a top priority for every individual, company, and organization that does business across the state," said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Bloomberg News


In a letter to regulated institutions dated Thursday, Maria Vullo, the department's superintendent, said financial institutions are the "cornerstone of the communities they serve," and she lauded steps already taken by some firms in response to the shootings.

"There is a fair amount of precedent in the business world where firms have implemented measures in areas such as the environment, healthcare, and civil rights in fulfilling their corporate social responsibility," she said. "The recent actions of a number of financial institutions that severed their ties with the NRA and have taken other actions after the AR-15 style rifle killed 17 people in the school in Parkland, Florida, is an example of such a precedent."

Yet it was unclear from the guidance whether any steps by companies, or lack thereof, could trigger a regulatory response.

"Subject to compliance with applicable laws, the Department encourages its chartered and licensed financial institutions to continue evaluating and managing their risks, including reputational risks, that may arise from their dealings with the NRA or similar gun promotion organizations, if any, as well as continued assessment of compliance with their own codes of social responsibility," Vullo said in the letter. "The Department encourages regulated institutions to review any relationships they have with the NRA or similar gun promotion organizations, and to take prompt actions to managing these risks and promote public health and safety."

The move comes as a number of businesses have already acted to restrict their relationships with the NRA after the Parkland shooting.

MetLife, a major insurer regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services, recently announced it was ending a discount program it offered with the NRA. Chubb, another insurer regulated by the department, recently stopped underwriting the NRA-branded "Carry Guard" insurance program. Meanwhile, Citigroup and Bank of America have outlined their steps to restrict services for firearms-related companies.

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