Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday criticized a banker for not engaging in back-door gun control. She made her opinion clear — that gun control is a corporate responsibility.
“I have two questions for you,” Rep. Maloney told Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.
“First, why does Wells Fargo continue to put profits over people by financing companies that are making weapons that are literally killing our children and our neighbors?
“And secondly, why are you willing to go above and beyond what the law requires on some issues, like human rights, but not go above and beyond the law when it comes to financing the gun industry? How bad does the mass shooting epidemic have to get, before you will adopt common-sense gun safety policies like other banks have done?” the lawmaker asked the banker.
“Congresswoman, we don’t put profits above people,” Sloan replied. “We bank many industries across this country. We do our best to ensure that all of our customers that we bank follow the laws and regulations that are in place at the local and state and national level. My view — our view is that we don’t–”
Maloney interrupted Sloan, asking him again, “Why are you willing to go above and beyond what the law requires for human rights but not for gun safety? Why is one more important than the other?”
“That isn’t the case,” Sloan replied. “We just don’t believe it is a good idea for banks to enforce legislation that doesn’t exist,” he said.
Maloney then changed the subject.
Earlier, as the preface to her questions, Maloney mentioned the mass shooting at the high school in Parkland, Fla., carried out by a disturbed former student who had previously come to the attention of both police and school officials.
“After this horrific massacre,” Maloney told Sloan, “two of your biggest competitors, Citibank and Bank of America, adopted new policies to ensure responsible lending in their business with the gun industry.”
Maloney noted Citibank won’t make loans to the gun industry unless the firearm companies require background checks on firearm sales and refuse to sell to teenagers.
“These are commonsense policies that will increase public safety, and they’re also smart business decisions,” Maloney said.
“Yet when asked about your competitor’s policies, a Wells Fargo spokesman said that progress on these issues had to be made through the legislative process, and your company would not go above and beyond what the law required. But as we’ve already seen when I read your human rights statement, in some cases your bank does go above and beyond what the law requires.”
Maloney complained that Wells Fargo issued a $40 million line of credit last October to “the manufacturer of the exact gun that was used to kill 17 people in the Parkland shooting.”
The title of Tuesday’s hearing was “Holding Megabanks Accountable.”
The Democrat-led House, as one of its first orders of business, passed a gun control bill that would require background checks on virtually every gun sale and restrict the transfer of firearms, among other provisions. The bill is not expected to become law unless and until Democrats control the Senate and maybe the presidency.