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In rebuke to gun control efforts, feds prohibit banks from imposing industry-wide blacklists

Banks must consider “individual customers” rather than whole classes

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A gun shop in New York State
A gun shop in New York State
(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/Getty)
Updated: January 16, 2021 - 6:02pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The federal government this week issued a directive forbidding banks from imposing industry-wide blacklists on customers, in a move widely seen as a rebuke to gun control activists seeking to apply pressure on gun manufacturers.

In a press release, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency—a bureau within the U.S. Treasury—said the OCC is ordering 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.”

“When a large bank decides to cut off access to charities or even embassies serving dangerous parts of the world or companies conducting legal businesses in the United States that support local jobs and the national economy, they need to show their work and the legitimate business reasons for doing so,” Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks said in the release.

The move appears to come as an albeit-late rebuke to the Obama-era initiative Operation Choke Point, which ended in 2017 and which sought to pressure banks to cut ties with gun dealers and other industries viewed as unfavorable by the Obama administration.

The policy can be reversed by the Biden administration if it so chooses. Joe Biden has signaled his intent to adopt strong gun control policies while in office.

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