BB&T, Wells Fargo Get Failing Grades From Gun-Control Group

(Bloomberg) -- BB&T Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. are among the biggest financiers to the firearms industry and should sever ties with gunmakers and trade groups, according to advocacy organization Guns Down America.

  • The banks, which provided a combined $471 million to the gun industry, received the lowest scores and failing grades, according to a report card released Thursday. JPMorgan Chase & Co. also received an F, for providing $273 million in financing and failing to ban gun-company investments, while Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp. received C grades. Citigroup Inc. got a B, the highest grade among the banks scored.

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  • The scorecard comes as corporate America faces pressure to take stands on controversial political issues. In a letter to shareholders Thursday, JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon urged fellow corporate chiefs to stand up for their beliefs. “If companies and CEOs do not get involved in public policy issues, making progress on all these problems may be more difficult,” he said.
  • Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, a Republican from Idaho, says banks shouldn’t be in the business of managing social policy by “limiting credit to politically disfavored industries” or promoting it to favored ones. He sent letters about the issue to bank CEOs last month.

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  • The advocacy group tracked banks’ relationships with gunmakers, the National Rifle Association and members of Congress who have NRA contributions in the past three years. The goal is to encourage banks to sever ties with the industry and invest in gun-buyback programs, among other requests.
  • “At BB&T, we’re deeply concerned with the increasing amount of gun violence in our schools and communities,” the bank said in an emailed statement. “We believe our country’s leaders at the state and federal levels should be fully engaged on this issue and find ways to reduce violence in our country. As always, we’re fully supportive of everyone’s voice being heard as part of the political process.”
  • Wells Fargo said in a statement that it’s investing in research on gun-violence prevention. “Schools and communities should be safer from gun violence, but changes to gun laws and regulations should be determined through a legislative process that gives the American public an opportunity to participate and not be arbitrarily set by a bank,” Wells Fargo said.
  • Representatives from JPMorgan, Citigroup, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs declined to comment. The New York Times reported on the advocacy group’s study earlier Thursday.

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