Remember when Eric Holder, Barack Obama’s attorney general-slash-political-pitbull, went after gun sellers by going after the banks who did business with them — the old Operation Choke Point moment in the so-called “scandal-free Obama administration” time?
Well here comes New York with a similarly sly gun control scheme.
“New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is reportedly encouraging credit card and banking companies associated with the state pension system to consider upgrading the risk of gun transactions,” The Hill wrote.
How that’s playing is that DiNapoli has reportedly contacted the chiefs of nine major credit card issuers and financial institutions — Visa, Bank of America, Mastercard, etc. — and asked that they change the classifications of firearms’ purchases to high-risk. That’s the same category for porn purchases; the same category for certain drug buys. And that’s a red flag for financial institutions worried about their reputations, particularly with the federal regulators.
My, how history does repeat.
Operation Choke Point sicced the federal watchdogs on banks that did business with firearms’ dealers under the supposition they were most at risk of engaging in fraud and money laundering — same as the pornsters and pay day lenders of the country. Republicans decried the program as harming legitimate businesses by branding them prematurely as suspicious and by therefore pressuring banks to cut ties with them. Lawsuits waged and ultimately, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department ended the program in mid-2017.
Well, its shadowy sister is emerging in New York.
DiNapoli, who maintains oversight of New York’s more than $209 billion of public employee pension funds — pension funds that invest in the nine financial companies he contacted — is now trying to slide through some backdoor Second Amendment crackdowns.
Specifically, he asked these nine companies to come up with new rules that would allow them to halt payments on those making firearms purchases — to outright reject the transactions before they occur. And the new rules start with a reclassification of firearms’ buys to “risky” business.
Talk about a carrot-stick approach to regulating. This move, if agreed to by the financial companies, would not only lay the groundwork for a massive stripping of constitutional rights from innocent Americans, but also open the floodgates to costly legal challenge.
“If gun violence continues unabated in society,” DiNapoli wrote to Mastercard, according to Bloomberg News, “public outcry and calls for action may grow and create significant financial risk for the company.”
In layman’s, that’s code for You Better Stop These Gun Sales Or No More Investment For You.
This is Operation Choke Point, Part 2. And count on this: If it flies in New York, other similarly liberally governed states will follow suit.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.