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Operation Choke-point is the scandal-ridden Department of Justice’s initiative aimed at
punishing making business difficult for those industries they don’t like. Payday lenders (ok, these can be dicey but are still better than loan-sharks), coin dealers (precious metals throw a wrench in their fiat currency scam), and firearms manufacturers and dealers (because…guns are icky and stuff) have all been targeted by the Obama’s highly-politicized DOJ. Since the Administration’s frontal assaults on the Second Amendment have not yielded the results they want, they have resorted to Executive Branch action to try to move the ball. In this they are pressuring financial institutions to deny banking services to the targeted industries.
While Congress is trying to put an end this abuse, Operation Choke Point is expanding into new realms. This past Friday Hogue Inc. announced that Wells Fargo has refused to do business with them, because they ostensibly manufacture “weapons”.
From Hogue Inc. via Facebook:
We were just informed that Wells Fargo Bank would not do business with us, refusing to provide their services based on the fact that we manufacture “weapons” (aka knives). Incredibly, this refusal came after THEY initially pursued us to gain our business. Once we had decided to go with Wells Fargo, they then pulled the plug saying they could not provide their services since we manufacture weapons…Needless to say, we are shocked and confused – considering their logo is a stagecoach and driver with a shotgun too! We felt we needed to inform the firearm and knife community of this discriminatory stance Wells Fargo has taken.
The “knife community” hears you Hogue, and is attempting to get the word out. Alex Antoniou, editor of KnifeNews.com actually alerted me to the story, and wanted to get my opinion on it. You can read their coverage here.
I also corresponded with KnifeRights Chairman Doug Ritter about the situation and he sent me the following statement:
“When Aaron Hogue let me know what had happened, I was shocked to a degree, but not entirely surprised. We know some banks and credit card processors have been discriminating against knife retailers for some time now, but this was the first time I’ve been aware of a bank discriminating against a knife manufacturer. Moreover, this is after they came looking for Hogue’s business. Pretty disgusting on so many levels, in my opinion. We’re working to see what Knife Rights can do to assist our good friends at Hogue.”
Disgusting would be a diplomatic term for it. I can think of several stronger.
It is bad enough that the Executive Branch uses the levers of government to target their political enemies. What makes this situation worse is that these companies are not just engaging in legal commerce, they are producing and selling products that are not only legal but actually specifically protected under the Second Amendment.
The DOJ didn’t see fit to stop at guns, they are now going after knives and knife companies. Why stop there? Why not go after automobile manufacturers? Any tool can be used as a weapon. An ISIS terrorist killed more than 80 people with a truck in Nice. Yet we have also seen a bystander thwart a machete attack in Germany by using his car to run over the perp. In both cases it was a human actor using an inanimate tool to further their ends – in one case terror and murder, and in another to try and save lives. The tool chosen did not target anyone, despite the assertions of my hometown newspaper.
Congress is attempting to right this wrong, but the wheels grind slowly in Washington. There have been hearings on Operation Choke Point and a bill has passed the House which would stop this abuse and discrimination, but it is bogged down in the Senate. Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz are leading the effort try and fix the problem.
From The Daily Signal:
“Under President Obama’s reign, the DOJ has abandoned its longstanding tradition of staying out of politics and has instead become a partisan arm of the White House,” Cruz said. “The Obama administration initiated Operation Choke Point to punish law-abiding small businesses that don’t align with the president’s political leanings. The DOJ should not be abusing its power by trying to bankrupt American citizens for exercising their constitutional rights.”
The bill, called the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act, bans federal agencies that oversee banks from requesting or ordering banks to terminate customer accounts “unless the regulator has material reason.”
The measure also requires banking regulators to put in writing any “formal or informal” requests for account termination, and requires those regulators to file an annual report to Congress regarding those requests. To scale back Operation Choke Point or any similar initiatives, the bill also amends the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989.”
Good luck getting the current administration to sign it, even if you can get it passed. Obama has already indicated he will use his veto pen if it reaches his desk. Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that whichever side wins the election is not likely to show more deference to Constitutional limits on Executive power. At best the targets are likely to change. Better for 2nd Amendment related industries, worse for the rule of law and the overall health of our Republic.
Meanwhile, the fate of businesses such as Hogue Inc. and the families that depend on them for their livelihoods hangs in the balance. The Constitutional underpinning of the right to bear the tools they produce does as well.
For a more backstory on Operation Choke Point and the mechanics of how it is being used to discriminate against legal businesses, watch this 1 minute video from Daily Signal.