OCC Proposal Comments Close Tonight

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has proposed a regulation that would ensure fair access to banking and credit services. The regulation would ban things like the Obama Administration’s Operation Chokepoint which sought to cut off banking services to disfavored industries.

In the greater scheme of things, this regulation is more important for the health of the firearms industry than the recent ATF moves on pistol braces and 80% lowers/frames. Without access to credit and banking services, the firearms industry would have a hard time existing as would any business.

In its proposal, the OCC notes that certain non-quantitative risk measures have been used by banks to deny financial services.

The pressure on banks has come from both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors of the economy and targeted a wide and varied range of individuals, companies, organizations, and industries. For example, there have been calls for boycotts of banks that support certain health care and social service providers, including family planning organizations, and some banks have reportedly denied financial services to customers in these industries. (8) Some banks have reportedly ceased to provide financial services to owners of privately owned correctional facilities that operate under contracts with the Federal Government and various state governments. (9) Makers of shotguns and hunting rifles have reportedly been debanked in recent years. (10) Independent, nonbank automated teller machine operators that provide access to cash settlement and other operational accounts, particularly in low-income communities and thinly-populated rural areas, have been affected. (11) Globally, there have been calls to de-bank large farming operations and other agricultural business. (12) And companies that operate in industries important to local economies and the national economy have been cut off from access to financial services, including those that operate in sectors of the nation’s infrastructure “so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.”  (13)

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is fully in favor of this proposed regulation. They note it doesn’t force banks to do business with businesses. Traditional credit worthiness measures as debt ratio, payment history, and ability to pay will remain in place. They go on to say this proposal will level the playing field by forcing banks to treat all businesses equally and fairly without consideration of banking executives’ personal political preferences.

The rule will apply to the largest banks in the country that may exert significant pricing power or influence over sectors of the national economy. It would require those banks to make their products and services available to all customers in the community it serves, based on consideration of quantitative, impartial, risk-based standards established by the bank.

In other words, banks would be required to approve or deny their services based on merit and creditworthiness of individual borrowers. That would remove the “reputational risk” mask that banks hide behind when they force businesses to adopt gun control policies that are beyond the scope of federal, state and local laws or lose access to banking services.

Comments on OCC-2020-0042-0001 closes tonight at 11:59pm Eastern.

To make a comment, use this link: https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=OCC-2020-0042-0001

As of this morning, they have received only 4,272 comments. There have been comments opposing it from gun control supporters as well as environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council.

I made a comment and I hope you take a few minutes to do so as well.

Bank Of America, The Second Amendment, And A 46 Year Relationship (updated)

On Friday, Kelly McMillan of McMillan International, a manufacturer of firearms and some of the best stocks going, posted on Facebook about the treatment of his company by Bank of America. The bank has not issued any statement or press release refuting Mr. McMillan’s version of things. I do have an email in to their press relations office for group commercial banking and will post any response that I get.

Based in Charlotte, NC, Bank of America is the product of a merger between San Francisco-based Bank of America and Charlotte-based NationsBank. Before it took the NationsBank name, it had been NCNB and North Carolina National Bank even before that. While the original Bank of America traces its history back to Amadeo Giannini and early 20th century San Francisco, the real owners of the current Bank of America got their start in 1960 as the North Carolina National Bank and were considered upstarts in the NC banking industry.

McMillan’s full unedited post is below:

McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, McMillan Firearms Manufacturing, McMillan Group International have been collectively banking with Bank of America for 12 years. Today Mr. Ray Fox, Senior Vice President, Market Manager, Business Banking, Global Commercial Banking came to my office. He scheduled the meeting as an “account analysis” meeting in order to evaluate the two lines of credit we have with them. He spent 5 minutes talking about how McMillan has changed in the last 5 years and have become more of a firearms manufacturer than a supplier of accessories.

At this point I interrupted him and asked “Can I possible save you some time so that you don’t waste your breath? What you are going to tell me is that because we are in the firearms manufacturing business you no longer what my business.”

“That is correct” he says.

I replied “That is okay, we will move our accounts as soon as possible. We can find a 2nd Amendment friendly bank that will be glad to have our business. You won’t mind if I tell the NRA, SCI and everyone one I know that BofA is not firearms industry friendly?”

“You have to do what you must” he said.

“So you are telling me this is a politically motivated decision, is that right?”

Mr Fox confirmed that it was. At which point I told him that the meeting was over and there was nothing let for him to say.

I think it is import for all Americans who believe in and support our 2nd amendment right to keep and bear arms should know when a business does not support these rights. What you do with that knowledge is up to you. When I don’t agree with a business’ political position I can not in good conscience support them. We will soon no longer be accepting Bank of America credit cards as payment for our products.

Kelly D McMillan
Director of Operations
McMillan Group International, LLC

 My family has had a 46 year relationship with Bank of America and its predecessor NCNB. From checking and savings accounts, car loans, safe deposit boxes, to the mortgage on my mother’s house, we have dealt with Bank of American in one form or another since 1966. Indeed, my mom had one of the first BankAmericards back in the late 1960s. We now know this as a VISA card.

After my mom’s death in 2008, I kept one account open with Bank of America out of nostalgia for the length of that relationship. I should have remembered that there is no such a thing as nostalgia in banking.

I will begin winding down my banking relationship with Bank of America this week. The first to go will be the BassPro-branded VISA card which is actually a Bank of America VISA card. Then I will begin transferring any remaining bank drafts from Bank of America to my other banks. Once this is done, the remaining checking account will be closed and thus end our 46 year banking relationship. I will be letting Bank of America management know why I closed the account.

I most certainly cannot tell you what to do nor would I. However, I would ask that you consider whether you want to keep your money at a bank (or any of their subsidiaries such as Merrill Lynch) that doesn’t respect you or your Second Amendment values. You know what I plan to do. What you do is up to you.

UPDATE: As noted in the first paragraph, I reached out to Bank of America for a comment on the McMillan Group International situation. I received a reply from Anne Pace of Bank of America. Her email didn’t have any signature line so I don’t know her exact title or position in the firm. Her verbatim response is below:

We want to let you know that we have heard the comments and questions regarding one of our customers. While we cannot discuss the details of any individual client we work with, we can assure you the allegations being made here are completely false. Bank of America does not have a policy that prohibits us from banking clients in this industry. In fact, we have numerous, longstanding customers in the industry.

In a follow-up email, Ms. Pace identified herself as one of the bank’s spokespeople.

UPDATE II: Kelly McMillan has a follow-up statement on Facebook regarding the statement put out by Bank of America that they don’t discriminate against the firearms industry.

In response to Bank of America’s public statement:

The statement we [McMillan] posted was an accurate account of the events that transpired late last week. McMillan Group has been in good standing with B of A and a loyal customer for the past 12 years. We were told that we must finalize all of our accounts because we manufacture firearms.

McMillan cannot speak for Bank of America’s company wide policies, but we can speak out about our personal experiences.

We [McMillan] kindly suggest that if Corporate Bank of America has no policy against conducting business with firearms manufactures, then they should communicate these policies with their regional Vice Presidents and other management.

UPDATE III: I closed out my BassPro Outdoor VISA from Bank of America this afternoon so the first step has been taken. I will be closing out the checking account as soon as everything has cleared and I’ve moved the remaining check drafts to another account at another bank.

I think I will use the money in this account to pay for my trip to the Gun Rights Policy Conference in Orlando this September. It seems only fitting.