It is a slow and steady form of gun control gradually gaining momentum with limited public fanfare: If guns cannot be directly taken from the hands of citizens, the next best target is the banks and financial institutions that enable transactions or loans for the industry.
“Financial activism by banks is by far one of the largest emerging threats against Second Amendment rights,” Philip Watson, founder of Washington Public Relations and a Second Amendment advocate, told Fox News. “The federal government allows the financial industry to receive vast amounts of federal funds; however, those exact same funds free up their balance sheets enough to discriminate and play politics.”
But some argue it has reached a ridiculous point.
Miles Vining, founder of the Silah Report – a non-commercial research center that “explores contemporary and historical Small Arms & Light Weapons in the Middle East, North African, and Central Asian regions” and draws its revenue from its selling mostly wraps and patches – said that they were suddenly slapped down by Paypal last month.
“PayPal canceled my business and personal accounts because of a velcro patch that we were selling through our web store,” Vining said. “It was in the shape of a firearm called the AKS74U or affectionately known as the ‘Krinkov’ in Central Asia and the United States.”
Vining posted a call between himself at the California-based company on YouTube and told Fox News that they are no longer using PayPal for anything, personal or business-related at all, and don’t intend to go back.
“It’s a constant struggle when it comes to conducting anything that is legitimate and small arms-related in the current political climate,” he said.
In April, several Republican senators penned a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, expressing concern that “several of the nation’s systemically important financial institutions (SIFI), including Citibank, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and others, continue to use their market dominance to financially discriminate against legal and compliant businesses for political reasons,” including “the firearms and ammunition industry.”
But a huge part of it has been political pressure.
Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D–Va., quietly introduced the Gun Violence Prevention Through Financial Intelligence Act late last year. This pushes for banks and credit card companies to automatically provide transaction data to the federal authorities on some firearms purchases with the goal of identifying “suspicious activity,” despite pushback that payment networks determining what is odd and what is not sets a concerning precedent.
And an increasing number of state leaders are taking aim.