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Arnold Ahlert / Sep. 3, 2018

Corporate Gun-Grabbers

Banks, retailers, social media outlets, and others team up to fight against the Second Amendment.

Last week during a town hall meeting in Texas, Ted Cruz elicited an exchange between one of his supporters and a backer of Democrat challenger Beto O'Rourke. Cruz began by saying, “On the Second Amendment—” only to be interrupted by a gun-rights supporter yelling, “Come and take it!” The apparent O'Rourke acolyte responded, “Oh, we will!” Ordinarily, an anecdotal exchange with a wannabe gun-grabber would be cause for amusement. But these are not ordinary times. Corporate fascism — as in gun-grabbing promoted as virtue-signaling — is on the rise.

Last March, Citigroup rolled out its “U.S. Commercial Firearms Policy.” It prohibits firearms sales to customers who haven’t passed a background check and are younger than 21. It also bars the sale of bump stocks and high-capacity magazines. These measures are applied to clients who offer Citigroup-backed credit cards, borrow money, use Citigroup’s banking services, or raise capital through the company.

A month later, Bank of America followed suit. “Bank of America will stop lending money to gun manufacturers that make military-inspired firearms for civilian use, such as the AR-15-style rifles that have been used in multiple mass shootings,” The New York Times reported.

Really? From 1982 through June 2018, the number of mass shootings committed with handguns is more than the number committed by rifles and shotguns combined. Moreover, the term “military-inspired” is as meaningless as the Leftmedia-anointed misnomer “assault weapon.” As always, leftists embrace propagandist vocabulary to advance their agenda.

And who advanced the continuing existence of Citigroup and Bank of America? Following the financial meltdown in 2008, both banks received billions in taxpayer-funded bailouts, including money from staunch Second Amendment supporters. Perhaps that support should have been conditioned on a particular policy as well — like requiring resignations from the self-anointed “best and brightest” who brought the world’s entire financial system to its knees, for example.

By contrast, Wells Fargo has stood against the gun-grabbing tide. For that it was “rewarded” by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) cutting ties with the bank last April. AFT President Randi Weingarten insisted that “if Wells Fargo won’t value children and teachers above guns, we won’t do business with Wells Fargo.” The bank countered with a statement declaring it also wants communities and schools to be safe, “but changes to laws and regulations should be determined through a legislative process that gives the American public an opportunity to participate. We remain firm in our belief that the American public does not want banks to decide which legal products consumers can and cannot buy.”

Which mindset do Americans want the educational system to embrace: the one that capriciously determines which constitutionally guaranteed freedoms should be supported or despised, or the one that supports the right of American to make their own choices, absent corporate strong-arming?

Tragically, the former mindset prevails among the rank indoctrinators who masquerade as America’s educators.

Unsurprisingly, banks are joined by the nation’s tech titans, another group of arrogant elitists who “know what’s best” for Americans. And in their efforts to undermine the Second Amendment, they are undermining the First Amendment as well. Despite the fact that Americans have always been allowed to make their own guns, and the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 bans the manufacture or possession of firearms undetectable by metal detectors or X-ray machines, Facebook restricted linking to codeisfreespeech.com, a website with downloadable plans for legal firearms whose parts can be made with a 3-D printer.

Google-owned YouTube prohibits content that would be used to sell “firearms or certain firearms accessories” or links to sites that do, along with those who provide instructions for “manufacturing a firearm, ammunition, high capacity magazine, homemade silencers/suppressors, or certain firearms accessories.” Reddit users may not “solicit or facilitate any transaction” with regard to firearms, ammunition, and explosives. Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke insists that “neutrality is not a possibility,” because solely deferring to the law is “too idealistic and functionally unworkable on the fast moving internet,” and the company will deny website space to “products intended to harm.”

Columnist Charles Cooke sees the bigger picture. “Once banks get accustomed to imposing political preconditions upon the disbursement of loans, there presumably will be no stopping them. What, I wonder, is to stop a newspaper editor from being told that his loan is contingent upon his board dropping certain positions?” he asks.

Nothing.

Cooke envisions three possible solutions, two of which require heavy lifting. First, deregulating the banking industry to make entities like Citigroup and Bank of America no different “than any other company competing in the marketplace,” he explains. Second, undertaking an effort to convince Congress that strong “political neutrality” rules must be added to existing bank regulations.

Third and likely most effective, filing lawsuits. While federal law and the Constitution have no prohibitions on age discrimination, nine states — Delaware, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Tennessee — along with the District of Columbia prohibit retailers from doing so. Three other states — Connecticut, Maryland, and Virginia — do not allow individuals to file such suits, but allow the state’s attorney general or a parallel commission to do so.

Thus, companies like Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and others that raised the minimum gun-buying age to 21 will likely be ongoing targets. In March, 20-year-old Oregonian Tyler Watson filed suit against Walmart and Dick’s. An 18-year-old Michigan man has sued Dick’s as well. UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh characterized Dick’s failure to take anti-discrimination laws into account before announcing its policy as “an odd business decision.”

It may prove costly as well. Despite a strong economy, Dick’s sales were weaker due in part to its decision to “tighten its policy on gun sales after 17 people were killed in a February shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school,” The Wall Street Journal reported last Wednesday.

Hopefully, it’s the beginning of a trend. In the meantime, gun-grabbers remain busy at the state level. “California lawmakers approved a bill Tuesday that would allow co-workers and school personnel to petition a court to temporarily remove guns from someone they believe poses a danger,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Right now the state allows only immediate family members, roommates, and law-enforcement officials to file such petitions. If a judge grants one, affected gun owners must surrender their firearms for 21 days — while they await a hearing to determine if the ban will be extended for a year. While they wait, these owners are prohibited from purchasing firearms or ammunition. It remains to be seen if Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown will sign the bill into law.

As ever, the American Left uses incrementalism like a club. Immediate family, etc., is expanded to co-workers and school personnel. No doubt if that somehow survives constitutional muster, workplaces in general will follow. Perhaps after that, anyone with a beef against anyone will enable judges to take guns first and ask questions later.

This contemptible combination of political prostitution and corporate fascism is what “oh, we will!” is really all about.

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