‘Operation Choke Point’

By Woody published on in News

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has been investigating the possible role of the federal government—specifically the Department of Justice’s “Operation Choke Point”—in influencing banks in their lending and business-banking relationship decisions regarding firearms companies.

The investigation that Justice Department officials dubbed “Operation Choke Point” was first disclosed in March 2013, according to American Banker magazine.

In August 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported that “the Justice Department had begun targeting banks that service a broad range of what it considers questionable financial ventures. The government has issued subpoenas to banks and other companies that handle payments for an array of financial offerings, ramping up an investigation that has been under way for several months.”

An NSSF statement said, “We have heard from several industry members that they had banking relationships terminated by their lending institutions.

Some merchant categories associated with high-risk activity include, but not limited to:

  • Ammunition Sales
  • Cable Box De-scramblers
  • Coin Dealers
  • Credit Card Schemes
  • Credit Repair Services
  • Dating Services
  • Debt Consolidation Scams
  • Drug Paraphernalia
  • Escort Services
  • Firearms Sales
  • Fireworks Sales
  • Get Rich Products
  • Government Grants
  • Home-based Charities
  • Life-time Guarantees
  • Life-time Memberships
  • Lottery Sales
  • Mialing Lists/Personal Info
  • Money Transfer Networks
  • Online Gambling
  • Pay Day Loans
  • Pharmaceutical Sales
  • Ponzi Schemes
  • Pornography
  • Pyramid-type Sales
  • Racist Materials
  • Surveillance Equipment
  • Telemarketing
  • Tobacco Sales
  • Travel Clubs

“We respect the right of financial institutions to make business decisions based on objective criteria. It is unacceptable, however, to discriminate against businesses simply because they are engaged in the lawful commerce of firearms, an activity protected by the Second Amendment.”

NSSF staff has met with members of the House Financial Services Committee and members of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee concerning several documents that have surfaced from the FDIC labeling companies in the firearms and ammunition industry as “high risk.”

Participating in DOJ’s Operation Choke Point, the FDIC has classified some industries as high risk: Cable Box De-scramblers, Credit Repair Services, Dating Services, Drug Paraphernalia, Escort Services, Ponzi Schemes, Pornography, and Racist Materials, to name a few listed here. Included in this group are “Ammunition Sales” and “Firearms Sales.”

On August 22, 2013, 31 members of Congress sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg, requesting a briefing of Congressional staff members on the project.

In the letter, which was organized by Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), the members of Congress wrote, it “has come to our attention that the DOJ and the FDIC are leading a joint effort that according to a DOJ official is intended to ‘change the structures within the financial system…choking [online short term lenders] off from the very air they need to survive.'”

“We are especially troubled by reports that the DOJ and FDIC are intimidating some community banks and third party payment processors with threats of heightened regulatory scrutiny unless they cease doing business with online lenders,” the letter read. “As a result, many bank and payment processors are terminating relationships with many of their long-term customers who provide underserved consumers with short-term credit options,” it continued.

NSSF said, “As a result, we have worked with Rep. Luetkemeyer and expect that he will offer today an amendment to the FY15 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, which would prevent federal funds from being used as part of ‘Operation Choke Point’ or in any effort targeting companies involved in the lawful commerce in firearms.”

NSSF said it will continue to investigate the extent of any improper government involvement in lending practices.

Powderhorn Outfitters, who sells firearms, archery gear and fishing equipment in Hyannis, Massachusetts, posted in an online forum this week that its longtime bank—TD Bank—had suddenly dropped its account.

Other retailers affected include:

  • T.R. Liberti, owner and operator of Top Gun Firearms Training & Supply in Miami
  • Black Rifle Armory in Henderson, Nevada
  • Gun parts maker American Spirit Arms in Scottsdale, Arizona

Do you think ammunition and firearms businesses belong in the FDIC’s high-risk list? Let us hear from you in the comment section.

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Comments (92)

  • Hide Behind

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    There is a massive not so behind the scenes reorganizing of our whole economic and monetary sytems and it is causing ripples world wide, and this new wave of credit denials of service are but one example..
    Sorry but the buisness examples given of needing short term loans is no longer a viable means of financing the buisness; mainly because the manufacture or service provider has far far fewer customers to pasd those loan cost upon.
    At present under the US led FATCA program about 80% of Americans using overseas banks are recieving lettrrs announcing a closing of accounts or at mimimum a need to redo their accounts..
    FATCA has caused the return into domestic banks while at same time returning to our IRS a few hundred millions .
    Not all the tax money is from tax but claimed as violating any and all rules of money transfers dating from even before drug wars .
    Under the UN weapons control plan monetary revords of gun transactions would be mandated to be reported to both US Gov and the International board..
    Just in recent past we saw millions of people removing their bankong buisness into more user friendly financial systems, mainly into credit unions and small state or regional banks.
    The credit card interest rates and even the chsrges of debit card transactions caught the lowest and poorest sector of americans with no choices as banks do not want them in first place.
    On average there are over a dozen lisenced gun shops garage store or parts and ammo sales outlets either quitting sales or closing doors weekly.and this is costing financial institution millions.
    Take a look at the money in your pocket. Ferls like cheap pot metal andasswipe paper; that is what it is becomingbaround the world and the world knows it will soon take a hell of a devaluation.
    That some pee pot gun related buisnesd id going to be inconvenienced is thenleast of problemdamerican populace is facing in near futureGone grocrryy shopping or noted gasoline cost lately, well get ready to see them vlimb even more as we export food and energy even more.

    Reply

  • cheve4life

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    You mean to tell me that the they did that to Cheaper than dirt? I order from cheaper than dirt every month. And if that happened to you then you’ll get more orders from me,and I hope everyone else will help out also.

    Reply

    • Ronald Howard

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      I suspect your earlier comment was directed at a store that left a comment saying they were affected but Cheaper than dirt thought your comment was directed to them, right? I have not read that Cheaper Than Dirt was affected by Operation Choke Point. I think they were just providing the article that you responded to.

      Reply

  • ath4554

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    You must have a lot of time on your hands Ronald,you reply to people that aren’t talking to you and you don’t know the whole story. Well Ron,since you jumped in my business, Cheaper than dirt sent me a message that I can order from them. I thought a small business needed help.And was trying to help out.

    Reply

    • Ronald Howard

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      Well, ath4554, this is an open forum concerning Operation Choke Point. I was not aware that it was your private “business”. I think your offer to help someone who was affected by Operation Choke Point is admirable. However, I was merely trying to provide input to what seemed to be some confusion on whether you were aiming your comment at a previous commentor who had been affected by OCP,who had commented previous to yours, or if you had directed it to Cheaper Than Dirt, who I have not heard was affected by OCP. Sorry if that ruffled your feathers, I was just trying to be helpful in what appeared to be a misunderstanding. Is the First Amendment still in tact? I know Obama is trying to weaken or eliminate it.

      Reply

  • ath4554

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    Well, Ron. Get a life.

    Reply

  • Mike S

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    Chuck Boggs is a federal firearms dealers in Charleston, WV whose bank, BB&T, inexplicitly cancelled his banking accounts without explanation.

    It’s happening in your backyard.

    Reply

  • DEERHUNTERS69

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    OCP = Obama’s Criminal Prosecution for ignoring the constitution!!!

    Reply

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