Senate Bill Could Prohibit Financial Discrimination against Firearms Companies

Plus: A deadline to destroy bump stocks

TOP STORY

Senate Bill Would Prohibit Financial Discrimination Against Firearms Industry

Senators Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota) and John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) have introduced SB 821, The Freedom Financing Act, which would prohibit discrimination against the firearms industry in the provision of financial services.

The Freedom Financing Act would ensure banks participating in certain federal programs, including credit card companies, credit unions, and users of the Automated Clearing House Network, cannot refuse to do business with law-abiding federal firearm licensees for political or “reputational” reasons.

Cramer said the legislation is designed to discourage big banks from cutting off the firearms industry and is a response to moves by lenders, such as Citigroup and Bank of America, in “distancing themselves” from the gun business.

The Freedom Financing Act would restrict banks' access to loans from the Federal Reserve’s discount window if they refused to serve legal firearms businesses for reasons outside of "traditional" underwriting, Cramer said.

The bill would also prohibit payment card networks from opting not to serve firearms-related businesses because of political or “reputational” concerns.

“A small number of banks controlling most of the financial sector could effectively illegalize legal commerce by refusing to finance certain industries or process certain transactions,” Cramer said in a statement. “Look no further than pro-Second Amendment industries where such discrimination has already occurred. Big banks should not be the arbiters of constitutionality.”

The proposed bill would "ban big banks from refusing to do business with customers that may not share the same political values as the bank,” Sen. Kennedy said in a statement.

Cramer and Kennedy are members of the Senate Banking Committee, where Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) has also made clear he has concerns about lenders cutting off the gun industry.

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DEADLINE TODAY

Feds To 'Bump Stock' Owners: Destroy Devices Or Be Felons

Under a federal rule imposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in December and endorsed by the Trump Administration, owners must destroy “bump stock” devices today—March 25—or they could face felony charges.

Unless, that is, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., grants the injunction gun rights groups are seeking as part of a legal challenge against the bump stock ban.

Gun rights groups argue in their lawsuit that bump stocks are intended to be used with AR-15 style rifles, which are mechanically incapable of firing more than once with a single function of the trigger, because it must be released and moved again to allow the weapon to fire.

They say the words of the statute—“single-function of the trigger”—refer to the movement of the trigger itself, not whether the trigger is pulled by a finger or actuated by a bump stock.

"The government is just wrong to focus on the behavior of the person rather than the function of the trigger," Erik Jaffee, an attorney representing the gun owners, said during Friday’s court proceedings. "Function of the trigger means the trigger, not the shooter."

Department of Justice attorneys maintain that the courts have interpreted the phrase "single function of the trigger" to mean "single pull of the trigger."

A bump stock, government lawyers argued, allows a rifle to fire automatically once the trigger is pulled once, and that qualifies it as a machine gun.

It is uncertain when the court will issue its ruling.

An ATF spokeswoman told Pete Williams of NBC News on March 22 that some owners have already turned in their bump stocks.

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STATE ROUNDUP

Judge Tosses Chicago Suburb's 'Assault Weapons Ban'

On March 22, Lake County Circuit Court Judge Luis Berrones blocked the village of Deerfield from enforcing its ban on assault weapons, striking a legal blow to gun control efforts at the local level in Illinois.

Berrones issued a permanent injunction against the Chicago suburb, writing that village firearm owners have “a clearly ascertainable right to not be subjected to a preempted and unenforceable ordinance” that bans them from having “assault weapons,” mandates monetary fines for possessing them and enables law enforcement to seize these firearms.

The court found Deerfield’s attempt to amend an existing firearm ordinance was a violation of state law. The ordinance would have allowed local authorities to confiscate and destroy semi-automatic rifles and standard capacity magazines possessed within village limits.

In April 2018, Deerfield trustees voted to ban the possession of specific semi-automatic guns like the AR-15 and AK-47, as well as magazines beyond 10 rounds. Violations of the ban carried a fine between $250 and $1,000 per day.

The Illinois State Rifle Association, Second Amendment Foundation and Deerfield resident Daniel Easterday filed lawsuits 2018, citing 2013 Illinois state legislature action that gave a 10-day window to local municipalities to ban assault weapons, prior the new concealed carry law, which Deerfield failed to do.

“We are very gratified with the judge’s ruling and we are glad the court recognized the ordinances were unenforceable,” David Sigale, a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs told The Chicago Tribune.

“The NRA is proud to have supported this challenge to Deerfield’s ban on commonly owned firearms and magazines,” NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action Executive Director Chris W. Cox said in a statement. “This ruling affirms that every law-abiding Deerfield resident has the right to protect themselves, their homes, and their loved ones with the firearm that best suits their needs.”

Deerfield officials told The Chicago Tribune they are studying the ruling and may appeal to the ruling to the Illinois Appellate Court.

“This unprecedented interpretation of state legislative action and intent make this case ripe for appeal,” village officials said in a statement.

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— [New Hampshire's House Advances Demcorat's Anti-Gun Bills(https://www.ammoland.com/2019/03/new-hampshires-house-advances-demcorats-anti-gun-bills/)

IN THE COURTS

Suit Is First Action Against 'Ghost Guns' Under Controversial New Jersey Law

New Jersey's attorney general announced on March 21 that the state will file a lawsuit against a California company that sells mail-order firearms parts that can be turned into working weapons—the first such action New Jersey will take under a law it adopted last year banning so-called “ghost guns.”

According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit alleges Apple Valley-based U.S. Patriot Armory and owner-founder James Tromblee, Jr., violated New Jersey's consumer fraud laws by advertising and selling gun parts to an undercover investigator in February.

The company was sent a letter in December asking it to "stop advertising, offering for sale, and/or selling 'ghost guns' and 'ghost gun' parts to New Jersey residents," according to the suit.

But in February, the AP reports, an investigator for the attorney general's office ordered parts for an AR-15 assault rifle. The shipment was received this month, according to the suit.

According to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, 15 other companies that received similar letters have either posted warnings to potential New Jersey buyers on their websites or removed the state from lists of available shipping addresses.

The lawsuit seeks civil penalties and to stop the company from shipping parts to New Jersey.

"Ghost guns" are unregistered weapons that don't have serial numbers. Companies sell the nearly complete weapons, often along with the parts needed to finish them, as well as training so the firearms can be completed.

Democratic New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a law last fall that made it a crime punishable by up to five years in prison to buy gun parts for use in making firearms with no serial numbers. It's also a crime to possess an unregistered assault firearm in New Jersey, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

"By advertising and selling dangerous and illegal ghost guns to New Jersey residents, failing to disclose the criminal liability buyers are exposing themselves to, and affirmatively misrepresenting that these guns are legal to purchase, this company has shown blatant disregard for New Jersey's consumer protection laws," Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Paul R. Rodríguez said in a statement.

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