Profile in Courage: Citigroup Bars Business Customers from Selling Guns to Buyers Under 21
In the wake of the Parkland, FL school shooting and the ensuing inaction by both the state and federal governments, private industry has stepped up to join the #neveragain movement. Rather than wait for legislation that may never come, private corporations have begun implementing self-imposed restrictions on gun sales. First in line was the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, Edward Stack, who made the decision to restrict gun sales to persons under 21 years of age, and to ban the sale of assault-style rifles altogether. Now, after several corporations followed Dick’s Sporting Goods’ example, Citigroup, a major banking tycoon, has taken steps of their own to prevent military-style weapons from falling into the hands of young, disturbed individuals.
Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat put out a memo Thursday outlining the bank’s new commercial firearms policy. “It is designed to respect the rights of responsible gun owners while helping to keep firearms out of the wrong hands,” the memo said.
“Over the last several weeks, I have had many conversations with clients, colleagues and friends who hold a range of opinions on the regulation of firearms in the US,” Corbat said in the memo. “It is clear to me that most people believe there are areas of agreement and practical changes we can make to find common ground.”
Here is Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat’s full memo:
Over the last several weeks, I have had many conversations with clients, colleagues and friends who hold a range of opinions on the regulation of firearms in the US. It is clear to me that most people believe there are areas of agreement and practical changes we can make to find common ground.
Citi is ready to do our part to help our country move in that direction. Today, I am proud to announce a new US Commercial Firearms Policy that promotes the adoption of current best practices regarding the sale of firearms. The policy was designed to respect the rights of responsible gun owners while helping to keep firearms out of the wrong hands.
This policy will apply across the firm, including to small business, commercial and institutional clients, as well as credit card partners, whether co-brand or private label. Under the policy, we will require new retail sector clients or partners to adhere to these current best practices: (1) they don’t sell firearms to someone who hasn’t passed a background check, (2) they restrict the sale of firearms for individuals under 21 years of age, and (3) they don’t sell bump stocks or high-capacity magazines.
It is clear our current clients care about these issues as well, and we believe we can make meaningful progress together. We have already begun to engage with them in the hope that they will adopt these best practices over the coming months. If they opt not to, we will respect their decision and work with them to transition their business away from Citi.
We have few relationships with companies that manufacture firearms. For those that do, we will be initiating due diligence conversations to better understand the products they make, what markets and retailers they sell to, and the sales practices of those retailers to ensure adherence with the best practices outlined above. We will apply the same due diligence screening to potential clients going forward.
We know that our efforts cannot lead to real change unless we work with others. To that end, we are initiating a dialogue within the financial services industry and with other stakeholders to understand whether there are additional technology solutions or voluntary standards that can be enacted. We know a solution may not come quickly, but we are committed to the conversation.
As an avid outdoorsman and responsible gun owner, I know that some will find our policy too strict while others will find it too lenient. We don’t have the perfect solution to supporting our Constitution while keeping our children and grandchildren safe. Best practices are going to continue to change, and we understand the limitations of our efforts. But we shouldn’t let that stop us from doing our part.
As the government continues to not act on this issue despite wide support for more gun restrictions among Americans, private companies are acting on their own. They hope to help in the fight against gun violence and to find themselves on the right side of history.