NY Times By Tiffany Hsu 4/4/2019
Gun control activists have spent years trying to limit the number of assault-style firearms available to civilians: holding rallies, drafting proposed laws and backing campaigns by shareholders of publicly traded gun makers.
Now, one advocacy group is focusing on a different pressure point: the consumer banks that provide loans and other financial support to the gun industry.
The group, Guns Down America, which formed in 2016 after a mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., has created a ranking system that gives 15 banks letter grades based primarily on their ties to firearms makers and trade groups like the National Rifle Association.
Six of the banks, including JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, received failing grades. Citigroup earned the highest one, a B.
Igor Volsky, Guns Down America’s founder and executive director, said he hoped the grading system would compel banks to be more publicly supportive of gun control measures, in the same way that many companies have taken positions on gay rights, immigration and other social issues.
Part of the mission, he added, is stopping “the Wild Wild West of how gun manufacturers both produce military-style weapons and also how they can market those firearms.”
“We’re not interested in shaming banks or running a campaign focused on how evil they are,” Mr. Volsky said. “Our end goal is to change the way banks make decisions when doing business with the gun industry.”
The group used a 100-point scale that applied different weights to factors like a bank’s loans to and investments in gun makers; its public statements about gun safety; its support for lawmakers backed by the N.R.A.; and the discounts and deals it offers to N.R.A. members.