Sen. Rick Brattin’s Capitol Report for the Week of Feb. 8: Protecting Firearms Businesses from Discrimination

If you are a firearms enthusiast, hunter or just like to shoot, like I do, you’ve probably noticed a change on the ammunition shelves over the last year or so. Those shelves are mostly empty and, if you can find ammo, you are likely paying a lot more than you used to for it. The same largely applies for firearms. There are a lot of reasons for this. Some of it is due to market forces and changes in supply and demand. Some of it is due to COVID-19 and interruptions in manufacturing and the supply chain. There’s another factor, though, that could also threaten our ability to exercise our Second Amendment rights: discrimination against the firearms industry.

Back in 2010, the federal government initiated a covert program named Operation Choke Point. This program used the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and U.S. Department of Justice to cut off essential banking services and financial capital to certain businesses and manufacturers, like the firearms industry. The goal was obvious: to force banks, financial institutions and payment processors to refuse essential services, like financing and capital, for businesses providing legal products to Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights. It was an abuse of power that only ended after President Obama left office. Now, some banks and financial institution leaders have now essentially privatized Operation Choke Point and are carrying it out in a misguided attempt to put legitimate businesses out of business and deny our military and law enforcement the ability to keep our country and communities safe. What’s next? Are banks and credit card companies going to monitor our purchases and deny any transactions for firearms or ammunition?

This isn’t going to fly in Missouri. We value our Second Amendment rights in our state, right up there with our First Amendment rights and the right to life. We’re not going to let these companies, who have no problem financing other industries many of us find objectionable, from crippling the firearm and ammunition industries and control whether we own a gun or not. This is potentially a big step toward further restrictions on our rights and liberties.

In response, I have filed Senate Bill 492. This bill would prohibit any banking or financial services company from receiving a state contract, or any contract with a state entity, unless it enters into a written contract stating that it does not have any internal policy that discriminates against lawful members of the firearm or ammunition industry.

Banks and financial institutions don’t set public policy. They don’t decide what we can buy or what we can sell, and they aren’t in charge of which businesses or products are legal. This is the job of the elected representatives of the people in state legislatures and in Congress and even those institutions cannot do so if it violates our constitutional rights. This is an issue of fairness. It’s an issue of our ability to protect ourselves, our families and our communities. It’s an issue of what is right and what is wrong, and it’s wrong for big banks to try and destroy a legitimate industry. Senate Bill 492 would tell them they can’t do it without losing business with the state of Missouri.

If you have any ideas, questions and concern, please feel free to contact me at the State Capitol: (573) 751-2108, or by writing to Sen. Rick Brattin, Missouri State Capitol, Room 331, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

God bless and thank you for the opportunity to work for you in the Missouri Senate.