Gun group hires bank lobbyist as financial companies float monitoring gun sales

Concerned with financial institutes implementing new gun control policies, the gun industry’s trade association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, retained the services of a banking lobbyist firm. The NSSF hired lobbyist Will Hollier, of Hollier & Associates, to encourage Congress to act on “discriminatory banking actions against [the] firearms industry,” according to a federal lobbying disclosure form filed May 1.

Larry Keane, NSSF senior vice president for government and public affairs and the organization’s general counsel, declined to comment on the lobbying strategy, but told that gun owners and the industry should be concerned “about the troubling reports that banks and credit card companies are collecting information about their purchases and the potential for the misuse of that data including blocking or denying transactions.”

News surfaced last month that banks and credit card companies had informal discussions about monitoring gun sales as a means to reduce gun violence. In meetings, they floated using specific transaction codes and keeping data on gun buyers so they could identify possible criminality. Gun rights advocates have long resisted those types of policies, arguing such activity could lead to limiting legal gun sales or preventing them entirely. The federal government is already barred from monitoring legal firearm transactions once they’re transferred from a licensed dealer to a buyer.

After February’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida, major banks and financial companies opted to change policies limiting their involvement with gun makers and sellers. Bank of America said it would no longer finance gun companies that make military-style guns for civilians, Citibank now requires businesses seeking financing to restrict gun sales to buyers under 21 years of age, and BlackRock Investment created investment products that exclude gun stocks.

Citing NSSF literature, publicly traded gun companies defended industry standards in addressing questions about risks associated with selling firearms. Also, the industry’s response to preventing further shooting massacres as led by the NSSF includes supporting current policies like background checks as well as enforcing current gun laws.

With business leaders siding with victims and activists calling for gun control action, the gun industry has suffered several blows, but retaliation is beginning to take shape. Republican ally Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo penned letters to BoA and Citibank accusing them of using their “market power to manage social policy.”

The NSSF’s new hired gun has deep ties to Crapo. For 11 years Hollier had various roles on the Idaho senator’s staff, with positions like chief of staff, legislative director, and campaign manager, according to the Hollier & Associate’s website. During his tenure, he was also the “primary liaison” for Crapo’s banking committee. Last month, Hollier, led a successful effort on behalf of a small group of banks to pass Crapo’s bill to cut down some Dodd-Frank Act provisions, The Daily Caller reported.

The NSSF has also led successful efforts using banking lobbyists before. During the Obama Administration, the NSSF urged lawmakers to confront the Department of Justice about an initiative to cut off illicit markets from banking systems. Although “Operation Chokepoint” intended to target fraudulent businesses like predatory loan operations, the Justice Department included a broad list of categories to target that included legitimate businesses like gun and ammo sellers. Crapo joined a list of critics saying the operation allowed the Justice Department to bypass due process and the department under Trump officially ended the program in August 2017.

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