The opinions expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of RedState.com.
The Second Amendment remains under attack, and it’s time for Congress to demand that “Fair Access to Banking Services” rules be re-prioritized by the banking industry.
Earlier on Saturday, my colleague Kira Davis reported that Wells Fargo canceled the accounts of Del Ray, Florida-based Wex Gunworks. Reportedly, Wells Fargo deemed the dealership, which supplies a full range of firearm services to Floridians, too risky for a banking relationship with the company.
Of note to students of 2A politics, in the case of Wex Gunworks, is that it is a federally-licensed NFA Class III dealer in machine guns and silencers, which are legal for Floridians to own. But gun control activists have been pushing ESG departments to act against companies, regardless of state law or business legality. Reportedly, Wells Fargo went further and severed the personal accounts of owner Brandon Wexler as well.
According to a report in The Reload by journalist Stephen Gutowski,
Wexler, who has been cited in stories by the New York Times, Washington Free Beacon, CNN, ABC, and many more publications, said nothing had changed with his business. He said he believed the move by Wells Fargo was motivated entirely by animus against the gun industry.
“It feels like it’s a direct attack against gun dealers,” he said. “This all just happened recently, and we have been in business for many years. I’ve never ever seen anything like this.”
Except this isn’t the first time Well Fargo has been in the news doing this.
Back in July 2020, I penned an article on RedState titled “Wells Fargo Risks Reputation Over Private “Chokepoint” Policy Against Gun Industry,” noting that the bank was under scrutiny that it might be changing its stance on accounts with the firearms industry to follow the policies of what is known in policy circles as a privatized version of the discredited government initiative known as Operation Chokepoint.
This was when banks turned to adopting discriminatory Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) policies that effectively redline certain impolitic industries, which includes the firearms industry, under the nebulous definition of “too risky to do business with.” My article at that time noted that in 2020, it was already official bank regulatory policy that financial institutions had been instructed to cease this type of business/industry redlining practice since 2015.
But some banks chose to carry on with the practice while being careful not to document the political reasons for cutting ties with a booming firearms industry. This article reported that a US Senate committee had expressed concern and was making inquiries to bank regulators as to why this practice was being allowed to continue.
By December 2020, I reported in my RedState article, “As Gun Industry Continues to Be Shunned by Banks, Regulators Move to Enforce Fair Access,” that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency was responding to the call for fair access to banking services by the hampered industries and was in the process of issuing a new rule that would ban such practices. That rule was passed in January 2021 and was then put on hold, following the transition from the Trump to the Biden presidency.
This continuing hold on enforcing fair access enabled this latest incident to happen to Mr. Wexler’s company. I recently updated my coverage of this saga on December 25, 2022, in an article in America’s 1st Freedom, “The Financial War on Our Freedom,” which describes how some banks have continued to weaponize their ESG to attack politically incorrect companies. Mr. Wexler’s company became a victim of this ideology war around the same time the article was published, proving the concern remains a present danger and deserves attention by Congress and regulators in 2023.
It’s redlining when banks attack otherwise healthy businesses in economically robust industries and cause them to be less viable in the marketplace. Using the excuse that internal risk calculations by the bank as the basis for non-participation in a credit, lending, or account services relationship is the same excuse that some banks have used in the past to avoid establishing accounts or making loans to minority or impoverished communities.
When a bank does the latter, forces are set into motion where a government enforcement agency begins to compile evidence of a pattern of discrimination, eventually leading to enforcement actions and payments of fines or settlements, often amounting to millions of dollars, as part of reparation of harm done.
Congress should demand the same type of aggressive enforcement for fair access principles in business credit and lending that the massive federal apparatus is doing for housing and community development. Impolitic or not, every healthy business is a vital part of keeping the US economy afloat, particularly during an inflationary and recessionary phase. Washington should be asking why the “Fair Access to Banking Services” rules that would punish banks for weaponizing their ESG departments against their customers are in a state of limbo in the Code of Federal Regulations.
U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker quickly became furious when what appears to be a majority of Prairie State county sheriffs announced they will not enforce the state’s new restrictive gun control law banning so-called “assault weapons” and “high-capacity” magazines.
According to MyStateLine, the new law requires current owners of affected guns to register them with the State Police. It also bans the future sales “of about 100 different semi-automatic pistols, shotguns, and rifles.”
Pritzker, who speedily signed the legislation, had a fit when sheriffs began telling their constituents they won’t enforce the ban. According to WGN and WTVO, “As are all law enforcement all across our state and they will in fact do their job or they won’t be in their job,” Pritzker told reporters.
But Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, which is preparing to file a federal lawsuit against the new law, told Ammoland News in a telephone conversation sheriffs are elected, and Pritzker cannot fire them.
“I don’t know how much (the resistance by sheriffs) will play into” the lawsuit scenario, Pearson said.
But he does know how the public is reacting, and up and down the state, “people are furious.” Since Pritzker signed the legislation—HB 5471—Pearson said the ISRA office telephones have been “ringing off the hook.”
In addition to banning future sales of semiautomatic firearms, the new law bans .50-caliber firearms.
KSDK News reported Greene County Sheriff Rob McMillen and Macoupin County Sheriff Shawn Kahl posted on their department Facebook pages they will not enforce the law. McMillan accurately predicted his decision would get plenty of concurring opinions from other Illinois sheriffs. Sheriff Kahl said he believes the new law violates the Second Amendment.
Likewise, according to MyStateLine, Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana, Lee County Sheriff Clayton Whelan and Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle shared the same sentiments. In their statement, they said HB 5471 “is a clear violation of the 2nd Amendment.”
ShawLocal.com reported that DeKalb County Sheriff Andy Sullivan, among others, issued a statement drafted by the Illinois Sheriff’s Association.
“As the custodian of the jail and chief law enforcement official,” Sullivan said, “[I] proclaim that neither myself nor my office will be checking to ensure that lawful gun owners register their weapons with the State, nor will we be arresting or housing law-abiding gun individuals that have been arrested solely with non-compliance of this Act.”
As it turns out, Illinois is not the only state where sheriffs are fed up with gun control laws pushed by governors. Out in Washington State, where Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson are calling for an “assault weapon” ban, the Washington State Sheriff’s Association issued a letter declaring, “We…believe the proposed restrictions will serve to erode constitutionally protected rights without addressing the root causes of violent crime. We are particularly concerned with the proposed so-called ‘assault weapons ban’ and ‘permit to purchase’ laws.
“Restrictions that shift focus from offenders to law-abiding citizens send the wrong message and erode constitutional guarantees upheld by the United States Supreme Court,” the letter adds.
“The Governor’s proposed legislation is also inconsistent with Article 1, Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution, which mirrors the language of the Federal Second Amendment,” the sheriffs say. “The new proposals to restrict gun ownership would further infringe on rights that have been clearly and repeatedly established.”
Pritzker and Illinois Democrats call their new law the “Protect Illinois Communities Act.” County sheriffs now saying they won’t enforce the law’s provisions evidently believe this law’s title is wholly erroneous.
Published reports quote Ogle County’s VanVickle, who observed, “This appears to be another rush to judgment on a bill that was introduced with very little oversight and very little public review.”
Concurring, Stephenson County Sheriff Steve Stovall stated, “There is so many unknowns, it’s another one of those laws that passed that they put unrealistic expectations out there, and there is no way to follow those things up.”
Pearson, at the ISRA offices, told AmmoLand one development in the aftermath of Pritzker’s bill signing is that his organization’s membership numbers are climbing. Every year, ISRA sponsors an event in Springfield, the state capital, that attracts several thousand gun owners. This rally and march are called IGOLD, and Pearson said this year’s event, scheduled March 29, will likely see a record turnout if current emotions continue running high.
As noted by KSDK News, Madison County Sheriff Jeff Connor and Tom Haine, the county’s State’s Attorney, issued a joint statement that noted, “…We expect a strong court challenge to HB 5471 in short order. We trust that this legislative overreach will not stand. In the meantime, we remain focused on reducing violent crime. Therefore, pending further direction by the courts, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office will not expend its limited resources to check whether otherwise law-abiding gun owners have registered their weapons with the State, nor will the Madison County Sheriff’s Office be arresting or housing otherwise law-abiding individuals solely due to non-compliance with HB 5471.”
Writing on Facebook, Stephenson County’s Stovall summed it up: “Let me be clear, this piece of legislation will do nothing to make our communities safer! Criminals don’t follow the laws. That is what makes them criminals. This unconstitutional legislation infringes on our 2nd Amendment Rights, which makes any enforcement of HB5471 contrary to my oath of office.”
Pretty soon, that sentiment will likely be at the heart of ISRA’s promised federal lawsuit.
About Dave Workman
They had more character than most people that I have met! Plus they were mega women magnets. Grumpy
It was almost 10 years ago, one of those flawless winter afternoons, the sky crisp and heavy with thought. Coming back from work, I was hurrying to get home. Even though the day wasn’t late, it had started very early and I wanted to get home to my black lab before he was doing the Barkley Bladder Boogie.
So I took the shorter route on the freeway to get towards home, anticipating the glare of the setting sun when the sky turns to diamond brilliance for a few minutes, intensifying the sound of the truck engine bouncing off the cooling pavement. I was just below the speed limit, as speeds traps were rife through here, the windows up, YoYo-Ma playing Vivaldi quietly on the stereo. So many thoughts going through my head.
The scene I had just left was not a good one and knew I would be carrying the sights and smells of the day with me on the drive, perhaps hanging those thoughts of them up somewhere this evening so I could get some sleep. I needed to think about other, happier things. I needed to stop at the store and get some milk and paper towels on the way home. I needed to give a friend a call back. But I wasn’t thinking about my home and my Barkley home on the couch.
He’s the keeper of the sofa, guardian of the throw rugs, and something I never planned on getting, but I did, suckered in by the litter of black fur. The first night home, he slept on my chest as I lay on the couch next to his prepared little kennel of which he wanted no part. I felt the gentle thump against my chest, for he began to give me his heart that very first night, and he, mine.
Then the days became weeks, and then months, and before you knew it he was my protector, not the other way around. On those days, when the reality of another sanguinary day takes hold, I could escape into the loving affection of a simple game of fetch or a nap for two on the family room couch.
That safe spot buffered me, hid me, helped me distance myself from anything that troubled me, while he and I both left the past in bounding leaps of faith and joy. But, that night, as I drove along the freeway, I wasn’t thinking about the doggy greeting I would get when I got home, Barkley yipping for joy at the sound of my big black Chevy truck coming up the drive.
I used to have a VW Jetta, until I moved to where the drive to work involved two lane highways, head on traffic, and little to no plowing before getting to the main freeway into the city. Looking at oncoming traffic as I fought for traction on a road not always plowed, it hit me.
Not the subtle detection of nature’s wrath I’ve sensed in the woods when I’ve picked up my gun and moved quickly to shelter. It was something that had been lurking in my mind for some time, even as I made my way in haste through the dark. It was that perception of a large grill of a semi truck about to spring full clawed on me if it crossed the center line. I realized suddenly how tiny my little VW was and how little chance I had of living if I hit something bigger than I.
Then a couple days later I hit black ice. I was alone on the road, going pretty slow, but I still found myself suddenly facing 180 degrees from the direction I was headed but still in my lane. I’m really not sure how that happened. I know all the rules in a rear end skid, don’t brake, steering in the direction of the skid, so that the momentum of the vehicle will straight you out. I think though, in this case, I simply closed my eyes and muttered increasing loud four letter words as my hands did something with the steering wheel from muscle memory.
The next day I bought the bat truck. Four wheel drive isn’t my personal savior but I now looked down ON some of the other trucks. It had an extended cab and four doors and big tires. It’s as nimble as a Humpback whale. But I bought it to haul stuff and for protection around me, not to play Speed Racer on the interstate.
What we drive is a deeply personal thing. For some, a car is nothing more than transport, Point A to Point B. For some it’s a need to show off to the world some image of yourself that only you carry. For some it’s custom license plate with a useless Humming SUV that is no better at serious off road antics or warfare than the Smart Car.
I’ve a truck for squirrel usage when needed, also 4 wheel drive, to get into places that people just don’t want to go. I’ve gotten used to a big truck, and find myself feeling strangely small and vulnerable in anything else.
I feel the same way when I go out without a weapon on my hip. I notice how small I am compared to most men, and certainly most criminals. I’ve felt it in places where I could not legally carry, walking faster, head up, trying to look confident as I swim in a river filled with sharp toothed predators. Kick and stroke, kick and stroke, no fear of drowning, just a fear of the sharks out there as I move, vulnerable as a small minnow in a deep river.
There’s nothing worse than the feeling of being small prey, when you have nothing of tooth and claw to protect yourself. I was walking in the woods one night, unarmed before that day I fully understood just how far down on the food chain I was. As I walked down a trail towards my car, I got the sense of something following me. There were no big cats in this part of the Midwest, though I’d heard a coyote way off in the distance, but it set my feet on edge. I heard something behind me, sudden, soft, movements. I stopped. It stopped. It didn’t sound big, but still the hairs on my arms stood up. I moved, it moved. I stopped, it stopped. Coyote? Evil Penguin from Wallace and Gromit? Feral cat? Elf on meth?
I couldn’t help share the survival instincts of the coyote and a small rabbits quivering role in our precarious world. A world in which the soft and innocent can get snatched out of at any time, grabbed in an explosion of pain. I had no defense, nothing more to protect myself than a set of car keys.
How old is fear? How acquired? And when do we stop listening to it? Somethings running through me that defied predation. The night gathered, rabbits run away, and behind me something moved, a fuzzy harmless woodland creature, or something with eyes as flat as dried blood. It was not a good feeling. I may be college educated and a citizen of the most powerful nation on earth, but on that dark night, I was simply a young woman alone, flesh and blood.
I turned around and turned on my flashlight, scaring the absolute stuffing out of a tiny little porcupine. Hardly more than a baby, he was more afraid of my big form, than I was of his little one and quickly scurried away with a shrill squeaky noise. But after that, I didn’t walk the woods unarmed.
I do think I walk differently when I’m armed. I don’t open carry. That’s a deeply personal choice as well, but just as you don’t advertise a punch, I don’t like to advertise what my capabilities are. I don’t carry in my purse either. I’d probably find my gun in there as quickly as I do my keys and the perp would have already stepped over my body, pawned my gold necklace and had a beer, by the time I got my firearm free from the bowels of my oversized purse.
But I do walk differently, with more confidence, head held higher, hands as free as I can make them. I normally carry, even whether I have a large dog with me or not. More than one woman has disappeared with a dog by her side. All of my Labs are deeply protective, but I don’t know if the Labrador retriever, by general nature, would sink his teeth into someone trying to grab me. Should my attacker be asthmatic and have issues with pet dander, well, the bad guy would be toast, but I’m not willing to run an experiment to find out. So when I’m walking the dog in the early morning, when the neighbors aren’t out and about, I carry. On those early mornings, just before daylight, when that dark and solitary suspension of night shifts and brightens with the tentative wakings of both birds and men, we are out. He with his teeth, and I with mine.
But I wasn’t thinking about that on that drive home that day long ago, or Barkley. As I left a small road to get onto the freeway, as trees released the load of snow from sagging shoulders onto a road spotted with ice. Four wheel drive won’t help me with ice, but I was aware of the might of steel around me, should I end up in a ditch.
The freeway is busy, but not backed up, cars zipping past me at 70 mph. Then there, up ahead, half a mile or so, the flash of numerous red tail lights, and with them my pilot brain went into “master caution” mode. Less than a quarter mile ahead of me, a delivery truck swerved a bit, the car next to it did likewise as if trying to see what was happening up ahead. I eased off the accelerator. There was a young girl in a tiny car behind me, I’d noticed her as I’d passed her, twenty something, chatting on the phone, not a care in the world. I couldn’t see anything abnormal ahead either, only experience on the road caused me to take my foot off of the accelerator and tap the brake light, hoping she would see and get away from my bumper.
That phrase “it happened in a blink of an eye”, didn’t take into account how fast an eye could actually blink. Some one had lost a chair from the back of a truck, a recliner, laying there now in the middle of my lane up ahead. There was truck running just ahead and to the right of me in another lane. If I hit the brakes hard, I could tuck in behind him, but then the girl in the tiny car behind me would likely smash into me if she didn’t see the brake lights, or simply plow into the chair. I think the chair was bigger than her car. My only other choice, to hit the horn and swerve around the chair into the left lane, hoping she would see or hear and do the same; hoping I didn’t lose control on a slippery road. She was likely still on her phone, not paying the slightest attention to what was unfolding.
My truck was in tip top shape and the brakes are as reliable as they can be. After years as a pilot, my reflexes were developed to make instant movement, with my brain able to calculate time, speed and distance in a way honed by landing a large chunk of metal onto a tiny surface at 123 mph.
In that blink, I was not thinking about driving into my driveway, happy to be home. I was not thinking about where all these vehicles were headed, and so fast. I was thinking about the rest of my day, of fractured steel, and fragile lives, the structure of bone and skin and tears. I’ve seen fate dive down from the heavens and felt the disastrous beating of its wings. As a pilot, I myself have fought it off with the advance of a throttle, or the jamming of a brake, split second choices that result in clear sunny skies or shattered ruin.
I did not think of my beloved Barkley waiting for me there at home. I thought of blood and bone and tiny fragile vehicles that carried someones heart. I thought of nothing and everything, as simply and ungracefully, I swerved around the debris in the road.
Fortunately, the girl behind me did too, and it was just another bad day of driving in the Hoosier State. But there, in only instants, lives can change. The world may appear to go by as leisurely and randomly as cattle or clouds, but within it are moments in which one single decision may save or break us. It’s there in that moment where fear becomes action, as we gauge a threat as if there was nothing else in our vision or our future, save that.
As my heart slowed, I looked at a photo of a black dog in the visor of my big black truck. I pat the gun on my hip, small things, big choices, that keep the chance of being hurt from finding us.
Philadelphia gas station owner Neil Patel hired security guards with AR-15s to deal with all the “nonsense, drug trafficking, hanging around, [and] gangs” endangering his employees.
Patel, who has a Karco gas station, hired “Pennsylvania S.I.T.E Agents clad with Kevlar vest and AR-15s or shotguns” to keep his employees safe, FOX 29 reports.
“They are forcing us to hire the security, high-level security, state level. We are tired of this nonsense: robbery, drug trafficking, hanging around, gangs,” Patel said.
The guards he hired wear Kevlar vests and train regularly, maintaining firearm proficiency.
Prior to hiring the guards, Patel’s car was vandalized and an ATM was stolen from his gas station. But FOX News notes Patel’s observation that crimes–including loitering–ended once he hired security.
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a Turning Point USA Ambassador. AWR Hawkins holds a PhD in Military History with a focus on the Vietnam War (brown water navy), U.S. Navy since Inception, the Civil War, and Early Modern Europe. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange. Reach him directly at email@example.com.
————————————————————————————– If the state won’t do its job than somebody is going to have to pick up the slack. I really think that we are going see a LOT more of this coming down the pike! Grumpy