Bowing to the activists’ pressure, both Citibank and Bank of America have announced changes to their lending policies. In March, Citibank confirmed that it would be accepting no “new retail sector clients” that refused to acquiesce to a novel set of rules. Henceforth, to qualify for financing, Citibank’s partners must decline to sell firearms to 18- to 20-year-olds, stop offering so-called “high-capacity” magazines and opt out of the due-process protections contained within the Brady Bill. In April, Bank of America followed suit, declaring its intention to drop any manufacturer that makes what anti-gunners like to call “military-style firearms” for civilians. Thus, having failed legislatively, the controllers went after the money. And it worked.
One’s first instinct here is to shrug and say, “Fine, I guess I won’t use those banks anymore.” But this, I think, would be to fall into the trap that has been set. In most political circumstances, respect for free choice is imperative. Markets, not the law, are the freeman’s recourse of choice. Here, though? It’s a lot more complicated than that. If one doesn’t like McDonalds, one goes to Wendy’s next door. If one doesn’t like Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola is on the adjacent shelf.
When Bank of America or Citibank start imposing political conditions on gun manufacturers and others, they do so under the guise of “market power.” In truth, though, their power comes ultimately from an outlet in Washington, D.C.
Banks, however, are a little different. This one affects all of us. It can't just be shrugged off.