The Daily Signal details the story of two gun sellers who were denied banking services because they sell firearms. This is likely the result of the secretive government program called Operation Choke Point that not only affects the gun industry but also affects any industry the government disapproves of.
Operation Choke Point was allegedly shut down but it’s not shut down in the minds of bankers.
In one case, a large bank in New England denied a line of credit to a former police officer who started a gun and tactical business in Monroe, Conn., saying it “no longer lends to firearms dealers.”
In the other case, a branch of a North Carolina bank refused to set up a new payment service for a firearms seller in Tryon, N.C., because of the nature of his industry, the business owner said.
The Daily Signal talked to both businessmen who were punished despite Congress’s effort to end this discrimination by banks.
The Justice Department program that, according to government officials, was aimed at going after “Internet, telemarketing, mail, and other mass market fraud against consumers, by choking fraudsters’ access to the banking system.”
The effect was to put the financial squeeze on whole industries with guns in the crosshairs.
“It is increasingly clear that the effects from Operation Choke Point are continuing to be felt, even if the administration has told Congress it has backed off from this campaign,” Larry Keane, senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, one of the nation’s leading lobbying firms for the gun industry, told The Daily Signal.
Rich Sprandel, an 18-year police veteran, had to retire in 2011 from the force in Seymour, Conn., after being hit by a drunk driver while on duty in his patrol car. Sprandel, who is married and has two children, opened an online firearms and tactical business.
“I have a retirement pension, but it’s not 100 percent of my pay, so I need to make a living to support my family,” Sprandel, 48, who owns Blue Line Firearms & Tactical in Monroe, Conn., said in an interview with The Daily Signal.
Another firearms dealer, Luke Lichterman, told The Daily Signal that HomeTrust Bank denied banking services to him March 11 because of the “high risk nature” of his business, Hunting and Defense, in Tryon, N.C.
Lichterman, a Columbus resident, said he was trying to open an automatic clearing house payment service with HomeTrust, where he had maintained accounts since 2012.
But, he said, a treasury management sales officer at the Asheville branch of the bank denied his request on March 11 because of his line of work.
“He explained that he’s terribly sorry, but the banking industry is tightly regulated by the federal government and we cannot approve your [payment service] because of the high risk nature of your business,” Lichterman said. “I said, high risk? What risk? What’s the problem?”
Lichterman, 75, said the banker then said, “I’m sure your business is fine, but it’s your industry that we feel is too risky.”
Luke Lichterman, co-owner of Hunting and Defense in Tryon, N.C., said he would like to see the banks “stop censoring” his business.
Suspicious of a connection to Operation Choke Point, which the Justice Department launched in 2013, Lichterman asked the banker for another example of an industry that HomeTrust Bank wouldn’t do business with.
His immediate response: “pornography.”
“I really had to stop from laughing,” Lichterman recalled. “I said, I’m not a pornographer. I deal in constitutionally protected goods.”
Read the entire story at The Daily Signal and check out the background story on the link.