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Sen. Menendez Describes New Ruling Forcing Banks to Lend to Gun Makers as “Politically-Motivated”

With less than a week left in the Trump Administration, Sen. Bob Menendez recently spoke out against a proposed Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) regulation requiring financial institutions to lend to industries identified as risky—including gun manufacturers.

Over the past few years, in response to acts of gun violence and mass shootings throughout the United States, banks have used their own risk-based policies, that if passed, would not be allowed under this new rule.

Menendez described this proposed regulation as “politically-motivated” In a letter to Brian Brooks, Acting Comptroller of the Currency.

Reaction to Parkland Shooting

“This ‘midnight rulemaking’ effort announced just weeks after an election in which Americans elected a new Administration appears specifically targeted at financial intuitions that have enacted carefully considered policies related to firearms sales in an effort to reduce gun violence,” wrote Menendez.

The 2018 mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, was yet another tragedy that brought gun safety measures front and center.

Menendez explained in response to this shooting, many large institutions and corporations adopted new policies on firearm purchases. Among the actions he cited in his letter:

  • Citibank’s new US Commercial Firearms Policy, which required retail clients to adhere to common best practices for reducing gun violence such as requiring all of their retail lending. partners to complete a background check before selling a firearm.
  • Walmart refusing to sell a gun without the completion of a background check.
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods removing assault weapons from their stores.

“Many of America’s leading companies have taken a public stand against gun violence because they recognize the risks to their communities and their business reputation,” said Menendez. “This proposed rule would in effect punish banks for taking responsible and legal steps to prevent gun violence and force them to lend to businesses and industries that may pose substantial compliance, reputational and other risks.”

Applaud, not Control, Banks’ Actions

The OCC’s proposed rule would prevent large financial institutions from adopting their own risk-based policies.   

Menendez called for the OCC to immediately suspend this proposed rule and rather focus on “ensuring a safe and sound banking system.”

Additionally, New Jersey’s senior senator said actions to prevent gun violence “should be applauded rather than targeted by government regulators. I strongly oppose any effort to stop financial institutions from enacting gun safety policies that go beyond federal law, which is well within their legal rights.”

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