The Politics of Credit for the Firearms Industry

Jim Shepherd’s The Outdoor Wire is reporting a story this morning involving Warne Scope Mount Company of Oregon, Home Depot, and ultimately Citibank. Charles Lake, the president of the company, had submitted an application for a business line of credit to Home Depot which was approved. He needed wood for work benches plus some small appliances sold at Home Depot.

On September 28th, Warne was informed that the approval was rescinded not because of their credit rating but because of the “industry you are in”. When asked for specifics, he was told it was because he made parts for the gun industry.

Like many companies with private label credit cards, Home Depot doesn’t actually grant the credit or administer the program. It is actually run by a credit card company who sets the policies and who decides who gets or doesn’t get credit. In this case, the company is Citibank (South Dakota), N.A.

The story is now taken up by Rich Grassi, editor of the Tactical Wire. After finding out from Stephen Holmes, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications for Home Depot, that Home Depot had no policy against approval for companies in the gun industry and that Citibank handled all the details, he went to Citibank for an explanation.

The following was a prepared statement that he received from Elizabeth Fogarty, Citi Public Affairs:

“Citi does not prohibit the financing of firearms purchases by individuals nor the financing of businesses that manufacture and sell them to individuals for recreational use. However, we do prohibit financing merchants in the non-ancillary military equipment industry, including the financing of businesses that manufacture and or sell firearms for military use. While we do not discuss individual credit applications, we are always open to reviewing particular decisions when appropriate to ensure the policy is applied correctly.”

Non-ancillary military equipment industry? When asked to clarify the meaning of that description, Ms. Fogarty came back with “the policy prohibits financing businesses that manufacture and/or sell firearms for military use.” Grassi and The Outdoor Wire promise updates if they come along.

One wonders how long that Citibank has had this policy and, more importantly, why.  Are they afraid of getting caught up in a Pentagon procurement scandal or does it have something to do with the fact that it is 36% owned by the Federal government? Or none of the above? I hope Rich Grassi finds out more on this.

UPDATE:  Rich Grassi will be a guest on Tom Gresham’s GunTalk Radio this Sunday to discuss the issue. I’m sure Citibank never thought they’d get this amount of negative publicity for shafting a little 50 employee company in Tualatin, Oregon. Heck, I bet they don’t even know where Tualatin is. I sure didn’t and had to look it up on the map – it’s in the Metro Portland area.

UPDATE II:  From the NRA-ILA on the issue:

NRA-ILA Investigates Citibank Issue

Friday, October 08, 2010

This week, NRA-ILA and NRA’s Publications Division learned of an issue regarding the disapproval of credit by Citibank South Dakota for a respected manufacturer of scope mounts for firearms. Upon investigation with Citibank, it appears that the initial disapproval was based on the type of business the company is engaged in. Citibank applies an industry code to every business that seeks credit and it appears that the company was assigned a code that Citibank does not lend to. However, we believe this code was misapplied in this case.

At this time, it does not appear that Citibank is actively denying banking services or credit in an attempt to discriminate against firearm-related businesses. Rather, we believe that there was a misunderstanding as to the nature of this particular company’s business.

NRA-ILA staff will continue to work with Citibank to resolve this situation and to help prevent similar problems in the future.


One thought on “The Politics of Credit for the Firearms Industry”

  1. Citibank and their firearms policy is old news – at least 10 years. This is their most recent policy tweak. Previously it was much stricter and prohibited all firearm related businesses.

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