The Firearms Industry Nondiscrimination (FIND) Act provides that it shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person to refuse to provide any goods or services of any kind, or to terminate an existing business relationship with, or otherwise discriminate against an individual or trade association, solely because the business or individual is engaged in the lawful commerce of firearms or ammunition products.
Discrimination against the firearms and ammunition industry has become increasingly common due to the anti-gun rhetoric continuously employed by the media, some politicians, and gun-control groups. The Obama Administration initiative known as “Operation Choke Point” was an effort by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to stop financial institutions from offering banking services to some regulated industries. The goal of the operation was to coerce banks, third-party payment processors, and other financial institutions into closing or denying business accounts of clients that the FDIC has classified as “high risk” or as a “reputational risk” for the financial institution.
The FDIC included federally licensed firearms retailers and other companies in the firearms and ammunition industry – some of the most heavily regulated businesses in the country – on this list of high-risk businesses without any evidence or justification. Due to this deliberate action on the part of the Obama Administration, some banks have ended relationships with legal and legitimate companies solely based on their industry. The FDIC has indicated it will take incremental steps to end this indiscriminate targeting of the firearms industry. For example, the FDIC claims they now require bank examiners to disclose all recommendations to cease banking relationships with a written explanation of what law or regulation they believe is or was being violated. However, there is no evidence that this discrimination has ended. It is clear that legal, legitimate businesses, licensed by the federal government, are being choked off from the financial system without cause.
According to a survey of firearms retailers, individuals engaged in the legal manufacturing and sale of firearms and ammunition products have experienced being refused services by financial institutions simply because they were engaged in the lawful commerce of firearms and ammunition. Additionally, firearms retailers have reported facing discrimination from internet search engines, social media platforms, payment processors, insurance companies, and other service providers not covered by the FDIC. This discrimination and refusal to provide goods and services results in higher costs of doing business and increased prices for consumers exercising their Second Amendment rights
Points of Interest
- In 2015, Kansas became the first state to introduce the Firearms Industry Nondiscrimination (FIND) Act with HB 2311.
- This legislation states that “It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person to refuse to provide any goods or services of any kind, or to refrain from continuing an existing business relationship or to terminate an existing business relationship with, or otherwise discriminate against an individual or trade association, solely because the business or individual is engaged in the lawful commerce of firearms or ammunition products.”
- In 2015, Alabama introduced the FIND Act in HB 327. Georgia introduced similar legislation in 2015 with SB 282. In 2017, Tennessee introduced a comparable bill with HB 561.
- In 2021, Texas signed SB 19 into law, which effectively instituted protections for the firearms industry by stating the following: “a governmental entity may not enter into a contract with a company for the purchase of goods or services unless the contract contains a written verification from the company that it: (1) does not have a practice, policy, guidance, or directive that discriminates against a firearm entity or firearm trade association; and (2) will not discriminate during the term of the contract against a firearm entity or firearm trade association.”
- In 2023, the Arizona legislature passed SB 1096, a bill protecting the firearms industry from discrimination, but Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed the bill.
- During the same session, Oklahoma’s HB 2218 was passed by the House but failed to receive the necessary votes in Senate Committee. This bill, however, does remain eligible for carryover into the 2024 session.
- Where AZ failed, Idaho succeeded, with HB 190 requiring that banks holding state funds not be allowed to boycott the firearms industry. Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus Member, Governor Brad Little signed the bill on March 31, and it became effective on July 1, 2023.
- Similarly, AR passed HB 1307 which prohibits the state from making investments with financial service providers who have been found to discriminate against, among other things, firearm companies.
- In 2023, Alabama also passed SB261, which prevents financial discrimination against certain industries by companies which contract with the state government.
- The current Congressional FIND Act was introduced early 2023, as S. 428, and H.R. 53. Both are in committee as of July 1, 2023.
While the firearms industry respects the right of financial institutions and other service providers to make business decisions based on objective criteria, it is unacceptable to discriminate against businesses simply because they are engaged in the lawful commerce of firearms and ammunition. To that end, the firearms industry supports the FIND Act. State legislatures are urged to pass measures similar to the FIND Act that would protect the lawful commerce of firearms and ammunition businesses.