Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, moving to take a lead role in the gun
control debate, is turning up the pressure on banks that do business
with firearms manufacturers.
is sending letters to two major financial institutions, TD Bank and
Bank of America, which offer lines of credit to gun makers suggesting
that they stop lending money to the manufacturers if they don’t come out
for new gun restrictions.
“TD Bank currently aids the gun manufacturing industry through a $60
million revolving line of credit with Smith & Wesson, a gun
manufacturer that produces the AR-15 — an assault weapon that was used
by James Holmes to kill 12 people and wound 58 in a crowded movie
theatre in Aurora,” Emanuel’s missive to TD CEO Bharat Masrani states.
“I ask you to use your influence to push this company to find common
ground with the vast majority of Americans who support a military
weapons and ammunition ban and comprehensive background checks.”
Noting that Chicago’s municipal employees and teachers had already
divested money in pension funds from gun makers that are opposing new
gun laws, the White House chief of staff-turned-mayor wrote: “Now we
need you and other commercial banks to join this fight for safer
streets. Collectively we can send a clear and unambiguous message to the
entire gun industry that investors will no longer financially support
companies that profit from gun violence.”
Emanuel sent a similarly worded letter to Bank of America CEO Brian
Moynihan, a bank that does business with Sturm, Ruger & Co.
Emanuel’s lobbying comes as gun control advocates seek new ways of
leverage to restrict firearms. Such creativity could be imperative with
the NRA preparing a stout lobbying campaign and a wall of opposition
from most congressional Republicans and some Democrats.
Emanuel, President Obama’s first chief of staff, did a stint in
finance in between political jobs and has deep connections to the
banking world thanks to his background in fundraising as a campaign
staffer and time as head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign
Committee when he was in Congress.
Now he’s talking tough to the industry.
“Doing business with gun manufacturers might benefit the banks’
bottom line, but they put our police officers, our children and our
communities at risk,” said the mayor.
Emanuel’s volley comes as the National Conference of Democratic Mayors has issued a warning
of their own to gun makers. The mayors, who collectively purchase
millions in firearms and ammunition for their police departments, said
they’ll begin grading manufacturers on their compliance with public
safety goals and reward those they rate the best and limit purchases
with those who oppose regulations.