The craven submission of the Republican Party to the gun industry and its Russian-funded mouthpiece, the National Rifle Association, is never more clearly illustrated than when GOP members of Congress are commanded by that gun lobby to turn against even some of their party’s biggest donors.
Because if they are willing to go against their own donor base in obedience to the gun manufacturers, they are certainly not going to care about the concerns of ordinary Americans caught in the crossfire of these weapons. They quite literally couldn’t care less.
Witness how Republicans reacted when some of their biggest contributors, the financial industry, tried to take some small steps to meaningfully regulate the sales of these weapons:
Major banks have taken a series of steps this year to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. They are restricting their credit card and banking services to gun retailers and halting lending to gun makers that do not comply with age limits and background check rules determined by the banks. They are also freezing out businesses that sell high-capacity magazines and “bump stocks,” attachments that enable semiautomatic rifles to fire faster, even though such products are legal under federal law.
The institutions that have initiated these efforts include such banking giants as Citigroup and Bank of America. Citigroup imposed restrictions on retail sellers of guns who refuse to implement background checks specified by Citigroup. Bank of America said it would no longer lend money to manufacturers of the AR-15, reasoning that the primary purpose of manufacturing such weapons was to facilitate killing innocent people with them, specifically in mass shootings. Other financial institutions have restricted credit-card services to gun retailers that refused to impose age restrictions on the purchase of firearms. Asset managers such as Black Rock have moved to create classes of mutual funds that do not include gun manufacturers in their portfolios.
In response, Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, who is on the Senate Banking Committee, immediately laid down the law, bank contributions to his own party notwithstanding:
Mr. Kennedy said he planned to file complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau against banks that are effectively restricting gun sales by setting their own rules on legal products and refusing to do business with gun makers and retailers that do not comply. He is also working to get Republican colleagues to join him in writing legislation to stop banks from discriminating against gun buyers.
The twisted irony of using the CFPB as a tool to encourage the unchecked spread of automatic and semi-automatic weapons notwithstanding, Mr. Kennedy’s knee-jerk reaction to the banks’ attempts to impose curbs on gun violence is emblematic of the reaction of Republicans throughout the entire Congress:
Senator Michael D. Crapo, the Idaho Republican who heads the banking committee, sent blistering letters in late April to the top executives at Citigroup and Bank of America, accusing them of using their market power to manage social policy. He told them not to go any further and warned them against developing ways to monitor gun transactions through their payments systems…[.]
Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, whose state suffered the most recent high-casualty massacre at the Santa Fe High School near Houston, has also weighed in to carry the NRA’s water against the efforts of these banks. Other Republicans, egged on by the NRA and the gun manufacturers, have even issued blackmail-style threats against those financial groups taking a stand against gun violence:
At a meeting with the Securities and Exchange Commission this month, a departing Republican commissioner, Michael Piwowar, assailed Citigroup executives over the bank’s gun policies. Mr. Piwowar, according to Bloomberg News, warned that the bank could struggle to get Republican support on the commission for easing derivatives regulations.
The NRA, for its part, has issued blistering statements against the banks that include intentional whiffs of anti-semitism, accusing “financial elites” (a.k.a. Jews) of attempting to make policy as opposed to “citizens and elected officials.”
Phony astro-turf organizations of the firearms industry such as “Gun Owners of America” orchestrated fake “grassroots” campaigns last month urging Republican Congressmen not to vote for the repeal of Dodd-Frank regulations which have up to this point constrained, in part, the activities of major banks and financial institutions. It’s almost amusing to see the far-right NRA urging Republicans to vote with Elizabeth Warren as a way to “punish” the banks.
But It’s important to understand that these Republicans don’t leap to do the bidding of the gun lobby out of any fealty or loyalty to the “Second Amendment.” Most are career politicians or lawyers far more comfortable getting fat eating lavish dinners with their mistresses in D.C. or being entertained and schmoozed on yachts. Although some may have purchased a gun to whip out and impress their constituents at town hall meetings, most would be hard pressed to explain where its safety catch is, or what type of ammunition it uses. What they are deathly afraid of, however, is being primaried by a rival in their district or state seen as more “pro-gun” than themselves and backed by the NRA. No number of school shootings in faraway places will change that, as long as their constituents continue to believe it “can’t happen here.”
The Republican Party and its members in the United States Congress have permanently sold their souls—out of fear, political expediency, or both—to the gun manufacturers, lock stock and barrel. Their collective response to even the most meager efforts by the financial industry to curb gun violence shows the absolute futility of expecting any meaningful gun regulation from the GOP—ever. And nothing better illustrates the fact that if we really want to stop our children from being butchered in their schools by deranged gunmen, armed to the teeth, the only solution is to vote Republicans out of office.
All of them.