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Citi Finances ‘Weapons of War’ Yet Denies 2A Industry Banking

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By Joe Bartozzi

Citigroup, the international banking giant worth over $300 billion, is suffering from a case of cognitive dissonance when it comes to their banking services policies. Citigroup is holding steadfast to their refusal to provide services to firearm businesses that won’t knuckle under to their gun control demands but is standing by their decision to finance actual weapons of war.

Citgroup, last week, urged their Wall Street staff to “keep their cool” when anti-Israel protestors blocked their New York City headquarters building. The protestors took issue with Citigroups’s alleged financial agreement to support Israel’s purchase of fighter jets from the U.S. government, according to The New York Post.

To be clear, NSSF believes Israel has a right to defend itself against terrorists. The horrific attacks on Oct. 7 demonstrated how critically important the Second Amendment is for Americans. The right to keep and bear arms doesn’t exist in Israel and it is worth noting that their restrictive laws about civilian ownership of firearms has been relaxed since the attacks.

Opposing Policies?

However, the protests at Citigroup’s Manhattan headquarters exposed a duplicitous policy ideal by the corporate bank.

“We respect the right to protest, but not at the expense of our colleagues’ safety nor when others perpetuate abuse or hatred,” said Ed Skyler, Citigroup’s head of enterprise services and public affairs in a memo obtained by The New York Post. “Simply put, we do not tolerate acts of intimidation and violence, and we denounce antisemitism, Islamophobia, acts of hatred, discrimination and prejudice of any kind.”

Skyler noted in the same memo, according to The New York Post, that much of the protestors’ information was false and that financing foreign sales of U.S. military equipment requires senior level approval.

When it comes to the lawful sale of firearms and firearm accessories, Citigroup holds a very different view. Despite the fact that the sale of firearms from a federally-licensed retailer is lawful, sold to an adult who affirms all the questions on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Form 4473, and is approved by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), Citigroup contends that’s not enough.

In the case of law-abiding American adults exercising their Second Amendment rights by buying firearms, Citigroup caved to the gun control protestors and adopted a policy in 2018 to restrict services to firearm businesses that won’t adopt their additional restrictions.

Corporate Gun Control

Citigroup instituted a U.S. Commercial Firearms Policy six years ago that requires firearm retailers to agree to not sell a firearm to anyone who has not passed a background check (despite the fact that all firearm retailers are required by law to do so), enact an age-based gun ban to deny sales to law-abiding adults under the age of 21 and not sell bump stocks or “high-capacity” magazines – what most firearm owners refer to as “standard-capacity” magazines.

That policy applies to small businesses, commercial and institutional clients and credit card partners, whether co-branded or private label. The policy doesn’t restrict consumers use of their Citi-branded credit cards at any merchant.

Citigroup’s policy also doesn’t take into consideration that bump stocks and standard-capacity magazines are legal products. Only 14 states and the District of Columbia have unlawful magazine restrictions. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have bans on bump stocks.

This discriminatory policy has impacted Citigroup’s ability to do business. Sixteen states have adopted some form of the NSSF-supported Firearm Industry Nondiscrimination (FIND) Act. Louisiana’s Gov. Jeff Landry was the latest to sign the law into effect that prohibits corporations from competing for municipal bonds if they cannot certify that they don’t hold a discriminatory policy against the firearm industry. Citigroup forfeited $3.4 billion in municipal bond deals because it knuckled under to gun control demands to require restrictions that are outside of the law.

Citigroup might be telling their staff to “keep their cool” about protestors, but there’s a lesson for their executives to follow when it comes to discriminatory lending practices to an industry that makes and sells lawful products to law-abiding citizens.

Joe Bartozzi is the President and CEO of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (“NSSF”), the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (“SAAMI”) and the Chairman of the Project ChildSafe® Foundation.

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