Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

“Choke Point” By Any Other Name: U.K. Shooting Clubs, Gun Shops Allege “Debanking”

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

“Choke Point” By Any Other Name: U.K. Shooting Clubs, Gun Shops Allege “Debanking”

Over ten years ago, the Obama Administration introduced “Operation Choke Point,” a program that used the concept of “reputational risk” to encourage banks and similar financial entities to reevaluate providing services to customers connected to “heightened risk” transactions and crime. Merchant categories “that have been associated with high-risk activity” and named specifically in a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) publication were telemarketing, online gambling, “racist materials,” Ponzi schemes, pornography, and dating and escort services, but also, extensively regulated and legitimate firearm and ammunition dealers.

Predictably, once the FDIC “publicly warned banks that it was intensifying its own scrutiny of banks that did business with ‘high risk’ business customers who use payment processors (for example, firearm dealers who accept credit cards, as well as law-abiding payday lenders),” many banks opted to stop providing services to completely legitimate gun-related businesses, without any evidence of wrongdoing or that the merchant was breaking the law. In 2018, after the Trump Administration put an end to the program, a former FBI agent and past president of the American Bankers Association described how “Operation Choke Point had more in common with a purge of ideological foes than a regulatory enforcement action. It targeted wide swaths of businesses with little regard for whether legal businesses were swept up and harmed.”

According to reports from across the pond, it appears that shooting clubs, shooting syndicates, gun shops and other businesses and organizations in the U.K. have likewise been targeted with “debanking” – “sudden unexplained account closures and refusals for new applications, difficulties with online payments, the use of card machines and applying for credit,” allegedly because words such as “gun,” “firearm,” “shoot,” or “shooting” appear in their paperwork. (“Debanking” in general attracted more extensive media coverage after former politician Nigel Farage was unceremoniously dropped by his bank last year; documents he obtained exposed “that a briefing presented to the bank’s ‘reputational risk committee’ described him as having ‘xenophobic, chauvinistic and racist views,’ citing his comments on Brexit, friendship with Donald Trump and more.”)

A news report quotes a spokesperson for the British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC) stating the obvious: “The fact that a very small minority of people oppose shooting does not make it a reputational risk. A small minority of people oppose the banking system, that doesn’t mean dealing with banks is a reputational risk to their clients… banks [are] discriminating against perfectly legal and respectable accounts that have been run for years on a proper basis and that actually damages people and businesses.”

The BASC conducted a “banking services and the shooting community” survey, with the results showing that the problem was widespread. “Of 325 survey respondents, 43% indicated that they had experienced banking difficulties, with the most common difficulty being opening an account, followed by processing online payments, sudden closure of an account, and obtaining credit… Where explanations were provided by the banks for difficulties experienced, the overall theme was that banks had a policy not to associate with anyone connected to firearms.” A separate source indicates that “15 different UK-operating banks are implicated in the claims.”

A representative of one “debanked” entity referred to in the article, the Mill Farm Clay Pigeon Club, said the bank “made us feel like criminals and the whole experience of being shut down like that, followed by the difficulty in finding another bank, was something I hope we never have to go through again. An amazing supplier gave us credit while we completed six different business account applications.”

Apart from the fact that completely law-abiding entities were being targeted and livelihoods put at risk for no apparent reason other than a perceived “politically incorrect” connection to firearms, the BASC points to the indiscriminate aspect of the discrimination. “The most bizarre aspect is that there is no consistency to the decision making. In the same bank, even in the same branch of that bank, will be lots of shooting related accounts. Yet, we see decisions taken against some of those accounts but not others.”

The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is reportedly looking into complaints from the representatives of gun trade and sports shooting entities, and an FCA report is expected “later this year.” A September 2023 letter from the FCA to the chancellor of the Exchequer (the government minister responsible for the treasury) referred to initial findings that there did not appear to be reported closings of accounts “primarily due” to customers’ political beliefs, but “we will be undertaking further analysis and supervisory work to assure ourselves of this and better understand the reasons for personal accounts having been closed because of reputational risk, where the information so far provided by firms is inconsistent.”

Access to adequate banking services is critical for businesses and individuals: the shooting club mentioned above was “nearly forced to close the business because of what happened. The banks should not be getting away with treating customers with such contempt.” The BASC spokesperson notes that, “You wouldn’t expect your electricity, gas or water to be shut down because of your interest in shooting, so why should banks be allowed to get away with denying us fundamental financial services?”

So you would think. The experience in America, however, is that anti-gun advocates leave few stones unturned in their attempt to destroy the Second Amendment, including weaponizing access to financial services by “choking out” lawful gun businesses, increased civil liability on firearm manufacturers and dealers for third-party misuse of guns, threats of consumer boycotts, and, most recently, the creation of a Merchant Category Code (MCC) specific to firearm retailers, to be used by payment processors and financial service providers to categorize transactions and enable monitoring and data-collection on firearm sales.

TRENDING NOW
NRA Scores Legal Victory Against ATF; “Pistol Brace Rule” Enjoined From Going Into Effect Against NRA Members

Monday, April 1, 2024

NRA Scores Legal Victory Against ATF; “Pistol Brace Rule” Enjoined From Going Into Effect Against NRA Members

NRA Members Among the Largest Class Protected from Draconian Rule

Fallout from Trudeau’s Gun Grab: Crime is Up, Number of Gun Ranges Drops

News  

Monday, June 17, 2024

Fallout from Trudeau’s Gun Grab: Crime is Up, Number of Gun Ranges Drops

In Canada, a ban on over 1,500 firearm makes, models and variants, together with a mandatory government confiscation (“buyback”) requirement, was imposed by Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over four years ago. 

NRA Releases Statement on Rahimi Decision

Friday, June 21, 2024

NRA Releases Statement on Rahimi Decision

Today, in United States v. Rahimi, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal prohibition on firearms possession by individuals subject to domestic violence restraining orders.

U.S. Supreme Court invalidates ATF Rule Classifying Bump Stocks as Machineguns

Friday, June 14, 2024

U.S. Supreme Court invalidates ATF Rule Classifying Bump Stocks as Machineguns

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives unlawfully exceeded its authority by classifying bump stocks as machineguns.

NRA Files Amicus Brief with Ninth Circuit in Challenge to California’s Billy Club Ban

Friday, June 14, 2024

NRA Files Amicus Brief with Ninth Circuit in Challenge to California’s Billy Club Ban

Today, NRA filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of a challenge to California’s prohibition on the possession of billy clubs.

Still no Trace of the Truth

News  

Monday, June 17, 2024

Still no Trace of the Truth

In our first installment of a critical analysis of an anti-gun propaganda podcast series from The Trace, we covered the lies, misinformation, and deceptive emotional arguments made in the first four episodes. 

NRA Secures Landmark Legal Victory; Supreme Court Unanimously Rules for NRA in First Amendment Case Against Former New York Regulator

News  

Thursday, May 30, 2024

NRA Secures Landmark Legal Victory; Supreme Court Unanimously Rules for NRA in First Amendment Case Against Former New York Regulator

The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) scored a historic legal victory today in one of the most closely followed First Amendment cases in the nation. In a stinging rebuke of New York’s “blacklisting campaign” against ...

Bob Barr Elected NRA President, Doug Hamlin Elected to Serve as NRA Executive Vice President & CEO

News  

Monday, May 20, 2024

Bob Barr Elected NRA President, Doug Hamlin Elected to Serve as NRA Executive Vice President & CEO

Today, the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association of America elected former U.S. Congressman Bob Barr as President of the NRA and Doug Hamlin as NRA Executive Vice President & CEO. The meeting ...

Delaware: Senate Committee Passes Legislation to Restrict Firearms on College Campuses and Properties!

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Delaware: Senate Committee Passes Legislation to Restrict Firearms on College Campuses and Properties!

Last night, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed House Bill 311, restricting firearms on college campuses and college-owned properties, even for concealed carry permit holders. This legislation is now eligible for a floor vote. Please contact your state ...

Kansas: Legislators Seize Special Session Opportunity to Start Discussion for 2025 Session

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Kansas: Legislators Seize Special Session Opportunity to Start Discussion for 2025 Session

Last month, Gov. Laura Kelly called a special session of the Kansas Legislature to deal with tax issues. The special session adjourned this week, lasting less than 24 hours. Despite the brevity, pro-gun Senators J.R. ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.