October 2018

New Threats to Gun Ownership

todd woodard

I honestly thought that once Donald Trump became president, we’d see fewer onerous gun regulations being rolled out — and, perchance, a rollback of some existing regulations, or even an expansion of gun rights. Silly me. President Trump did make it a campaign pledge to delete two regulations for every new one installed, but that effort hasn’t been extended to gun regulations, at least that I’ve heard of. Moreover, while wide-ranging federal efforts to restrict gun ownership and simply make it harder to own, buy, and transact firearms have stalled at the national level, that doesn’t mean that the inalienable right to self-defense with guns isn’t being challenged across the country. In fact, the new challenges to 2A rights are especially pernicious. To wit:

In an excellent piece in National Review on August 21, 2018, entitled “Corporate Gun Control Might Be the Worst Threat to Gun Rights,” writer David French outlines the shape of a new attack gun-banners have rolled out, and I have to say I’m worried because it uses legal and financial levers to attack gun rights.

French writes, “Titans of American banking and communication are taking steps to restrict the use of their funds or platforms by gun makers, gun-rights advocates, and others. The threat is just now emerging, but it may be as great a danger to gun rights as it is to the culture of free speech in this nation, and indeed the two are linked.”

He points out that “Citigroup is setting restrictions on the sale of firearms by its business customers, making it the first Wall Street bank to take a stance in the divisive nationwide gun control debate.” French says the new Citi policy prohibits the sale of firearms to customers who have not passed a background check or who are younger than 21. It also bars the sale of bump stocks and high-capacity magazines. It would apply to clients who offer credit cards backed by Citigroup or borrow money, use banking services or raise capital through the company.

Also, Bank of America will stop lending money to gun manufacturers that make military-inspired firearms for civilian use, such as AR-15 rifles, French writes.

I would also mention the NRA is suing Gov. Andrew Cuomo and several of his financial appointees for “blacklisting” the NRA from getting insurance coverage in New York State. This is a political attack, of course, but it’s not legislative, which gun-rights advocates know how to work against. If Cuomo’s tactics hold, then NRA could conceivably be prevented from even operating in the state, and the ban would have been accomplished administratively.

More broadly, French also points out that “Facebook has recently restricted any links to a website called CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, which contains downloadable plans for a number of entirely legal firearms,” such as the Colt 1911.

Likewise, YouTube prohibits any content that “intends to sell” firearms or provides instructions on “manufacturing a firearm.” French points out, “The latter prohibition is broad enough to (if YouTube wishes) include information on assembling a firearm from its component parts — a necessary part of firearm cleaning and maintenance.” And there’s more that French detailed:

  • Reddit has banned certain gun forums and updated its policies to forbid using Reddit to “solicit or facilitate” (extremely broad terms) transactions or gifts involving firearms.
  • Amazon Web Services has reportedly removed the website CodeIsFreeSpeech.com from its servers.
  • Shopify just updated its free-speech policies to deny space for “the kind of products intended to harm.” The company also placed on its “restricted items list” all semi-automatic weapons packaged with detachable magazines “capable of accepting more than 10 rounds.” It also reportedly deleted the accounts of Spike’s Tactical and Franklin Armory, according to French.

I agree when French writes, “…that these actions represent not the culmination of a gun-control campaign, but the front edge of a wave of corporate censorship and suppression.” This is a vastly different threat than what gun ownership has faced in the past.