Citigroup, Bank of America Criticized by Senator on Firearms Ban

(Bloomberg) -- A key Republican lawmaker called out Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. for their decision to restrict business with the firearms industry.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, whose committee writes banking laws and oversees Wall Street’s regulators, wrote to the chief executive officers of both banks last week. He criticized the firms for using their size and reach to influence social policy and demanded to know how they collect information about consumers who buy guns.

“We should all be concerned if banks like yours seek to replace legislators and policy makers and attempt to manage social policy by limiting access to credit,” Crapo, from Idaho, wrote in a letter to Citigroup CEO Mike Corbat. Banks “should not deny financial services to customers they disfavor.”

In March, Citigroup announced restrictions on gun-selling retailers among its customers. Bank of America said earlier this month it would stop lending to companies that make assault-style guns used for non-military purposes. The availability of firearms has been a renewed focus of protests since the Feb. 14 mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school left 17 dead.

“This policy does not impact the ability of Citi customers to use their credit and debit cards for the legal purchase of firearms,” Rob Runyan, a Citigroup spokesman, said in an email. “As we have with other industries that have reputational implications, we created standards based not on ideology, but on established best sales practices.” Bank of America didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Republicans including John Kennedy of Louisiana have called for government agencies to stop doing business with banks restricting gun sales and delay regulatory reforms that would benefit the finance industry.

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