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Operation Choke Point no longer targeting gun retailers

Thanks to the diligent efforts of Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform it looks like gun dealers are no longer going to have their banking relationships targeted by the government.

Operation Choke Point was created to limit acccess to the banking industry by high risk businesses under the guise of reducing banking fraud. In reality, it was a way for the Obama Administration Department of Justice (DOJ ) to attack businesses and industries the administration disagreed with - even businesses in compliance with all applicable laws.

These targeted businesses lumped gun dealers in with tobacco sellers, porn stores, and drug paraphernalia outlets as "high risk" businesses. Once given the directive the administration wanted, a multitude of banks began closing long standing relationships with gun retailers, gun manufacturers, and many companies related to the firearm world.

One firearms industry business had a banking relationship of more than 10 years discontinued with no advance notice. The company was essentially robbed of thousands of dollars in earned credit card rewards and forced to immediately find new banking relationships without explanation and through a simple form letter.

The obvious overreach had Representative Issa concerned about the long term ramifications in a speech given at the Cato Institute, "If you empower the government to pick winners and losers within lawful enterprises, then there’s no place to stop."

Brian Wise, a senior adviser for the U.S. Consumer Coalition, wants to make sure that the recent announcement is more than just altering the wording on the website. Like many industry advocates, he believes the FDIC's current announcement did not go far enough.

"While we support the FDIC's decision to remove the list of 'high-risk merchants' from the FDIC website, damage has already been done to countless businesses across the country who have already lost their bank accounts," he said. "Whether the list is published on the FDIC's website or not, we expect banks will still be fearful of doing business with these lawful industries."

Only time will tell if Operation Choke Point's impact can be mitigated but we can at least thank Representative Issa and the other committee members for forcing a step in the right direction.