As it will soon be known, in the bad old days of President Obama’s second term, he used the Department of Justice (DOJ) to attack his most hated of political enemies: gun dealers. In Operation Choke Point, a gun dealer could wake up one morning and find that his or her bank has terminated their relationship; their payment processor would refuse to continue handling credit card payments and suddenly the things a legitimate business relied upon were inaccessible.
Those days are now closer to ending.
U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R- Ariz.) advanced an amendment to H.R. 766 which requires financial institutions to give notice before terminating accounts at the behest of the federal government. This requirement, along with H.R. 766 itself, shows tremendous promise in stopping this process of destroying financial relationships based on “reputational risk”, as DOJ designated the Obama administration’s enemies.
Gosar cited in a statement several Arizona businesses who themselves have been wrongfully impacted by Operation Choke Point. “Several Arizona businesses were victims of Operation Choke Point including a gun manufacturer in Phoenix, American Spirit Arms in Scottsdale and Secure Account Services in Lake Havasu City.”
Gosar continued, saying “Operation Choke Point is a shameful example of the Obama Administration weaponizing federal agencies in order to hand pick winners and losers by intimidating financial institutions into implementing its political agenda. American citizens do not want big government to have the power to arbitrarily terminate their accounts at financial institutions based solely on ideological opposition to individuals or certain organizations. My amendment will increase transparency and protect consumers throughout the nation from lawless executive overreach.”
The overall legislation, the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act (H.R. 766) is a product of Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer (R-Mo.) and other co-sponsors effort to restrain Obama’s Department of Justice, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), who collaborate to obstruct trade for untold numbers of American businesses. Why?
Because they offend the Administration’s ideological purity against the sale of firearms and ammunition. Seldom has such an abuse of executive power been seen outside of banana republics, and has no place in in the United States.
Rick Manning, President of Americans for Limited Government praised passage of the Gosar amendment, saying, “ALG strongly supports Representative Gosar’s common sense amendment to the H.R. 766 protecting customers of financial institutions by increasing transparency between them and the federal government. The federal government has no constitutional power to take actions against individuals with due process, and Gosar’s amendment will ensure that if a financial institution does take any action against an individual or business terminating their account at the behest of the feds, it must notify the customer why it is doing so.”
The bill has clear headwinds going into the Senate, as the Obama White House has already issued a veto threat and drawn the ire of Sen. Warren (D-Mass.), who alleges this bill will benefit white collar criminals.
While it most certainly should become an imminent priority of the Senate, it certainly shows foresight on the part of the House which has laid down the marker for 2017, giving the next President a path forward to undo damage of an Obama era abusive policy.
Congress has a duty to uphold its Article I responsibility and ensure that the Second Amendment, as well as the freedom to engage in commerce related to it, remain unobstructed by an Administration that shows contempt for the Constitution it’s sworn to protect.
Dustin Howard is a contributor editor at Americans for Limited Government.