Citibank Is Wrong To Take Stand On Gun Debate

March 27, 2018 at 9:15 am 1 comment

On Saturday, as kids across the country advocated for gun control measures, Citibank became the first major financial institution in the country to announce that it was placing restrictions on gun retailers with whom it does business. In a blog accompanying the announcement, it explained that its new policy will require retailers to refuse to sell firearms to someone who hasn’t passed a background check, restrict the sale of firearms for individuals under 21 years of age, and not sell bump stocks or high-capacity magazines. Citibank has gotten positive reviews for its actions and even seen an uptick in deposits. I’m giving the bank the benefit of the doubt and saying it’s doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. Its decision to coerce gun retailers will make providing needed services more difficult for all financial institutions, including credit unions, while doing little to achieve needed gun control reforms.

First, let me explain where I am coming from. I actually agree with every policy Citibank is supporting and would like to see even more restrictions on gun use in this country. But the job of a credit union or bank is tough enough without taking sides on the hot button issues of the day. How many of the people applauding Citibank’s actions would applaud if Citibank decided that it was not providing banking services to anyone associated with the NFL so long as some of its players boycott the National Anthem? Perhaps Citibank should take a stand on abortion or even merchants who sell cereal loaded with junk.

My point is that the primary purpose of banking is to provide people and businesses with a safe place to put their money and take out loans; not to pass judgment on how they choose to make a living provided what they are doing is legal. Done properly, this is a noble calling. It helps people save their money and provides a ladder for upward mobility. Credit Unions have the especially unique responsibility of assisting people of modest means. But these worthwhile goals don’t give credit unions or any other financial institution a license to pass judgment on how our customers spend their money or grow their businesses provided that they are doing so legally and in a financially sound manner.

By taking a stand on such a high-profile issue, Citibank has opened the door to litmus test banking in which institutions will be pressured, not only to know their customers but to make sure that their customers only engage in activities that would be approved of at a dinner party in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. All financial institutions have just been put on a slippery slope that it will be almost impossible to get off.

Morelle To Run For Slaughter House Seat

Long-serving Democratic Assemblyman Joe Morelle, who represents the Rochester area, was greeted with a standing ovation as he entered the chamber yesterday following news that the second ranking member of the Democratic Leadership Team has announced he is a candidate to fill the vacancy caused by the recent death of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. Morelle, who has been in the Assembly since 1990, has been the Majority Leader since 2013. A special election has not been called yet but at the very least a primary will have to be held. Either way, the winner will have to stand for reelection this November.

A special election would receive national attention. Slaughter survived a scare when she ran for reelection in 2014 and Republicans could view the 25th Congressional District as they head in to what promises to be a very tough battle to hold onto their majority in Congress.

 

 

Entry filed under: General, Political. Tags: , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • […] Not that the largest banks in the world need my support, but we are getting on an awfully slippery slope when politicians start urging financial institutions not to bank with legal businesses or facilitate perfectly legal transactions by consumers as I explained in this recent blog. […]

    Reply

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Authored By:

Henry Meier, Esq., Senior Vice President, General Counsel, New York Credit Union Association.

The views Henry expresses are Henry’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Association. In addition, although Henry strives to give his readers useful and accurate information on a broad range of subjects, many of which involve legal disputes, his views are not a substitute for legal advise from retained counsel.

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