Congress puts end to controversial 'Choke Point'

Thursday, December 14, 2017
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

AR-15s for saleThe trade association for the firearms and ammunition industries is pleased with the passage of legislation ending "Operation Choke Point."

Started by the U.S. Justice Department during the Obama administration, the idea was to weed out consumer fraud by blocking high-risk industries from banking services.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) worked closely on Choke Point with the Justice Department, beginning in 2012, to "attack Internet, telemarketing, mail, and other mass market fraud against consumers, by choking fraudsters’ access to the banking system," The Daily Signal, quoting government documents, reported in a 2016 story

The firearms industry unfairly got pulled into the attempt to fight consumer fraud among a list of "controversial industries," complains Mike Bazinet, director of public affairs at the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).

"We can only attribute it to the animus that that administration had for the firearms industry," he observes, "and this was a way of trying to choke off vital financing for people who sell firearms."

In its story, The Daily Signal says firearms sales were listed alongside "Ponzi Schemes," "Pornography," and "Credit Card Schemes," in a list of "merchant categories" given to banks. 

OneNewsNow published a business story about Operation Choke Point in 2015 describing a Louisiana firearms dealer who was repeatedly turned away by banks. Republicans were grilling FDIC officials at the time in congressional hearings. 

Earlier this year, the Trump administration's Justice Department announced it was ending Operation Choke Point although U.S. Rep. Blaine Leuktemeyer's (R-Missouri) had also introduced legislation to effectively do away with the program.

The legislation was approved this week by a bipartisan vote of 395 to 2.

"Congressman Leuktemeyer has been really the driving force in the House of Representatives against this really illegal and unsupportable action on the part of the former administration," says Bazinet.

The congressman has a banking background, Bazinet says, so he knew how to "peel back the onion" during House hearings and find out what was happening.

 

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