This piece in American Banker is the first I’ve seen in what I almost hesitate to term “a legitimate news source” (meaning an actual, reputable publication and not some random person’s blog or YouTube channel) on this item. However, I’d heard rumors swirling about well before I came across this the other day.
B of A justified freezing the deposits of 10-year customer American Spirit Arms for three weeks beginning Dec. 18 by saying that the deposits were held for “further review.” Even though American Spirit Arms is a properly licensed firearms manufacturer which submits to regular audits by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Department of Homeland Security, Bank of America also said, “We believe you should not be selling guns and parts on the Internet.” Happily, the Internet played a role in resolving the issue, as business owner Joseph Sirochman told anchorperson Megyn Kelly on Fox News’ America Live.
Another disturbing episode involved McMillan Firearms Manufacturing in April 2012. In expanding a routine “account analysis” meeting to include the larger political issue of overall business purpose, Bank of America directly suggested that the firearms manufacturer take its business elsewhere.
Many of my friends from back home (a somewhat gun-loving small town in Connecticut) were screaming that this was a clear infringement of their Second Amendment rights, which, well, it isn’t because only the government can infringe on your Constitutional rights, but it does seem questionable. What do you think? Is the action justified? Does it have to be justified, given that B of A is a private corporation?
Admittedly, if I were a small entrepreneur doing legitimate, above-the-board business, I would probably panic if my bank froze my funds because they didn’t like the kind of business I was doing.
Those on the other side of the spectrum might ask whether serving your customers and doing right by them ever interferes with serving the public good, to the extent that a bank is obligated to do that.
I have no solid opinion on this personally, but I would be interested to hear what some actual bankers think of the situation.