A federal banking regulator has now pumped the brakes on a planned rule that would have ended discrimination against firearm-related companies seeking financial services. 

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, an independent bureau of the U.S. Treasury Department, last year had proposed a regulation to ensure that banks and savings associations offer and provide fair access to services. The change came after some banks had reportedly denied financial services to specific industries following calls for boycotts. The OCC specifically mentioned in their reasoning behind the regulation that "Makers of shotguns and hunting rifles have reportedly been debanked in recent years." 

Instead, the OCC's new fair access regulations simply stated that banks should "conduct risk assessments of individual customers, rather than make broad-based decisions affecting whole categories or classes of customers, when providing access to services, capital, and credit."

While backed by the firearms industry and others, with the change in management in the White House last month, the new reg has been put on ice. The OCC announced last Thursday that, while the organization's "long-standing supervisory guidance stating that banks should avoid termination of broad categories of customers without assessing individual customer risk remains in effect," the official publication of the new fair access regulation will be paused to allow for the next Comptroller to review. 


Republicans on Capitol Hill immediately called foul.  

“There’s no reason for today’s action by career officials in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency other than bending to political pressure from big banks and stalling or eliminating the rule will not stop the efforts of those of us who support it from continuing these efforts,"  said U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer R-N.D., who sits on the Senate Banking Committee. "The Biden Administration should use this opportunity to demonstrate leadership and not just be puppets for the large financial interests who back them."

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which had championed the rule change as a counter to the controversial Obama-era Operation Choke Point practices, likewise slammed the news. 

"The first salvo in the gun control fight has begun and the Biden Administration has fired the first shot by improperly interfering in the affairs of the OCC which is an independent agency,” said NSSF’s Senior Vice President and Counsel Larry Keane. 

Gun Control Crowd Cheers

Meanwhile, national anti-gun groups backed by Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire former Democratic presidential hopeful, welcomed the news, promising more top-level moves against the American firearms community were to come.

“This rule was a last-gasp giveaway from the Trump administration to the NRA, and President Biden’s administration was right to kick it to the curb, along with the outgoing president,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown. “This will be just one of many steps President Biden will take to undo the deadly legacy of Trump’s anything-goes approach to guns, and we look forward to additional bold action.”