- Gun dealers across the country are outraged about a policy
by Citibank, one of the nation's largest international banks, that refuses
service to customers who sell or manufacture guns.
- Bank officials say the policy has been long-standing,
but the issue has flared this month because a bank letter to a Las Vegas
gun dealer is being circulated within the gun industry.
- "This is basic discrimination," said James
W. Winchester, a former assistant U.S. attorney who is now vice president
of the Colorado State Shooting Association.
- "It says that we are not good citizens because we
are associated with firearms. This is really starting to become a police-state-type
situation for gun owners, and it's no wonder that gun owners are getting
- Citibank spokesman Mark Rodgers said the bank hasn't
had trouble with the policy before.
- "We have a long-standing policy of not engaging
in long-standing financial relationships with businesses that manufacture
or sell military munitions, military weapons or firearms," said Rodgers.
"It's a business decision based on many factors."
- The Feb. 7 letter now being circulated notifies the Nevada
Pistol Academy in Las Vegas that its checking account has been canceled
"due to Citibank not maintaining accounts for businesses that deal
- "I will cut up my card, and I will urge anyone I
know to get rid of their accounts,'" said Dave Anver, owner of Dave's
Guns in Aurora, the state's largest gun dealer. "We will no longer
be honoring that card at our store."
- Rodgers said the account with the Las Vegas gun dealer
"should not have been opened in the first place," and it was
closed because "it wasn't in compliance with this policy."
The owner of the Nevada Pistol Academy declined to comment, saying only
that the issue has been handed over to the National Rifle Association.
- "We are looking into it," said NRA spokesman
Jim Manown, saying he first heard about the Citibank policy on Friday.
"For obvious reasons, the NRA is very careful before we make any sort
of assertion about a company's position on guns or gun issues. We are being
very careful. There's a wellworn procedure to follow in these sorts of
- Ted Phillips, with the West Coast branch of the national
Interstate Arms gun dealership, said he has been deluged with calls from
dealers questioning the policy.
- "First thing I did when I heard this was to check
my accounts," he said. "The industry has jumped on this one.
Everybody, of course, is irritated and obviously, if people come in to
my customers' stores and want to buy with a Citibank credit card, they
are probably going to ask the consumer to use an alternative credit card."
- Some gun enthusiasts are questioning the legality of
the policy. Winchester said the policy is reminiscent of bank policies
years ago that limited - or "red-lined" - loans in areas populated
- "Just like those policies, this policy is based
on a pernicious stereotype," Winchester said, noting that Citibank
is regulated and licensed by the federal government and "should have
no right to arbitrarily determine who can or can't have an account ...
assuming the account holder has not violated the law, like money laundering."
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