Bank of America to stop lending to makers of ‘military-style firearms’
Bank of America plans to stop lending to manufacturers of “military-style firearms” used by civilians, an executive told Bloomberg.
“We want to continue in any way we can to reduce these mass shootings,” Anne Finucane, vice chairman of Bank of America, said in an interview. “It is our intention not to finance these military-style firearms for civilian use.”
Finucane said the bank does “have a few manufacturers of military-style firearms.”
“We’re in discussion with them. We have let them know that it’s not our intent to underwrite or finance military-style firearms on a go-forward basis,” she said.
Finucane was referring to the AR-15-style semiautomatic rifles produced by gun companies like Remington Outdoor Company. Remington made the Bushmaster used in a 2012 mass shooting that killed 26 children and educators at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Bank of America is listed as a creditor in Remington’s Chapter 11 filing. A spokesman for Bank of America would not confirm or deny reports to CNNMoney that the bank also lends to Sturm Ruger and Vista Outdoor, which also make AR-15-style rifles. Remington, Ruger and Vista did not return messages from CNNMoney.
Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control group, applauded the move.
“When the second-largest bank in the US takes concrete steps to prevent gun violence, it sends a clear message to the entire industry: It’s time for every financial institution to do their part,” said Everytown president John Feinblatt, in a statement.
But the gun industry group, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, objected to Bank of America’s characterization of the guns as “military” since they’re products for civilians.
“We as an industry would welcome the opportunity to sit down with Bank of America executives to explain our industry’s perspective and to discuss what really would work to keep firearms out of the hands of those who should not have them,” said NSSF spokesman Michael Bazinet, in a statement.
In February, Bank of America said it plans to “engage the limited number of clients we have that manufacture assault weapons for non-military use to understand what they can contribute to this shared responsibility.”
This is a rising trend on Wall Street, which is losing its taste for gun manufacturers ever since a mass shooting in February, when a AR-15-style Smith & Wesson rifle made by American Outdoor Brands was used to kill 17 students and educators at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
Last month, Citigroup said it will bar companies that it does business with from selling guns to people under the age of 21 and require customers to undergo background checks for all firearm purchases.
Money manger BlackRock, the largest shareholder in both Sturm Ruger and American Outdoor Brands, said last month that it will start offering clients the option to invest in funds that exclude firearms and retailers that sell them.
State Street, a top shareholder in Sturm Ruger, American Outdoor Brands and Vista Outdoor, has said that it’s contacted the companies to see how they “will support the safe and responsible use of their products.” Blackstone, another investment firm, reached out to a dozen hedge fund managers asking for information about their stakes in gun manufacturers and distributors.
Bank of America’s Finucane stopped short of saying the bank was going to stop lending to gun retailers any time soon, saying that “gets into civil liberties and Second Amendment.”
Dick’s Sporting Goods Chief Executive Officer Edward Stack said in February, days after the Parkland shooting, that his stores would stop selling “assault-type rifles” and high capacity magazines, and won’t sell any gun to anyone under 21.
Walmart, which stopped selling military-style semiautomatic rifles in 2015, also recently raised its gun buying age to 21, along with L.L. Bean and the grocery chain Kroger, which sells guns through its Fred Meyer stores.