Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has filed an amendment aimed at protecting Second Amendment rights by preventing two federal agencies from pulling an “end-around” on gun and ammunition manufacturers and sellers.
Paul is seeking to amend the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for the 2015 budget to prevent any funds given to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or Department of Justice (DOJ) from targeting gun and ammunition companies.
In Paul’s amendment, filed Thursday evening, the FDIC will not be allowed “to classify the sale or manufacture of a firearm or ammunition as an activity involving risk.”
The amendment, the text of which was obtained by The Daily Caller, also bars the DOJ from discouraging “the provision or continuation of credit or the processing of payments by any financial institution to a manufacturer, dealer, or importer of firearms or ammunition, based on the fact that the business is a manufacturer, dealer or importer of firearms or ammunition.”
An aide to Sen. Paul tells TheDC that the amendment is meant to target Operation Choke Point, a DOJ program.
The “choke” in the initiative’s name is a reference to its stated purpose of cutting off the access fraudulent companies have to banking services and other financial services.
Officials at the FDIC have stated that Operation Choke Point is a DOJ program, though a House committee recently revealed documents that indicated that the FDIC has helped DOJ with the initiative.
FDIC has labeled around 30 industries, including gun and ammunition dealers, as “high-risk.” Coin dealing, payday lending, and adult entertainment are also considered “high-risk.”
Fearing “reputational risk,” some banks have reportedly cut off ties with companies in such industries.
At best, according to its critics, Operation Choke Point has the unintended consequence of causing banks to stop doing business with the “high-risk” companies. At worst, the critics maintain, the initiative is designed to harm companies in industries that the Obama administration has deemed objectionable.
The owner of Powderhorn Outfitters, a gun seller in Hyannis, Mass., said that his longtime bank, TD Bank, refused to extend a line of credit despite his solid financial history because, he was told, “you sell guns.”
“The worry is that with Operation Choke Point is a way to intimidate companies and cut off their funding,” the Paul aide, who preferred not to be named, told TheDC.
“It’s basically to make sure that Second Amendment rights are protected,” said the aide, adding that the amendment is meant to ensure ”that the Justice Department can’t do an end around and use Operation Choke Point to go after gun dealers and ammunition sellers.”
Stopping Operation Choke Point is “something that’s an emerging issue,” said the aide, who indicated that Paul will likely focus more on the initiative going forward.
Republican Missouri Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer proposed an amendment to the same appropriations bill last month. It simply stated: “none of the funds made available in the CJS Appropriations bill may be used to carry out Operation Choke Point.”