Jon E. Dougherty is a Missouri-based political science major, author, writer and columnist. Follow him on Twitter.
While Citibank has confirmed to WorldNetDaily its policy of not
allowing people with firearms-related businesses to open accounts, it
turns out that other financial institutions have adopted the same policy
of refusing to do business with firearms-related businesses.
Citibank spokesman Mark Rodgers told WorldNetDaily, “Citibank’s
consumer business has a longstanding policy of not engaging in financial
relationships with businesses that manufacture or sell military weapons,
military munitions or firearms.”
He added, “In keeping with this policy, the account in question should not have been opened. The customer was notified that we would
close the account because it was not in compliance with that policy.”
The banking giant’s anti-gun stance came to light when the owner of
the Nevada Pistol Academy opened a checking account at a Las Vegas
branch of Citibank earlier this month, only to have the bank send him a
letter a few days later informing him that it would be closing his
account because of the institution’s gun policy.
Some gun rights activists have leveled charges of “discrimination,”
while gun dealers have sought legal advice from attorneys and other gun
rights organizations, including the National Rifle Association.
Citibank, however, is not alone in adopting such anti-gun policies.
Other banks reportedly have also adopted them, turning down profitable
accounts from firearms dealers and importers.
Larry Gaglio, a “high-end” firearms dealer and importer in Richmond,
Virginia — who said he “doesn’t handle walk-in customers” and “doesn’t
sell $130 AK-47s” — was also refused a business account at a local bank
in 1998 because of “the nature” of his business.
Gaglio, who provided WorldNetDaily with copies of his rejection
letter from Commonwealth Bank — part of a local three-branch
corporation — said at first the bank management staff hid the true
reason for turning down his lucrative business.
“They told me they didn’t want the account because of my
‘international dealings,’” Gaglio said, explaining that he has to make
frequent overseas financial transactions with foreign firms when
importing their products for his buyers.
Gaglio, who had been doing business at another local bank for years,
decided to check out what Commonwealth could offer him because service
from his original bank had fallen off after a merger with a larger
When Gaglio initially met with Commonwealth officials, “I asked them
if they had international wire transfer services because I do a lot of
business overseas and import products from foreign suppliers. They told
me no,” he said. “I told them that didn’t matter because I had another
small account at another local bank where I could get international wire
However, Gaglio said he “suspected something early on” after showing
his business card to the Commonwealth bank official who was assisting
him with his new account.
“When she saw the word ‘firearms’ on it, the whole tone of the
conversation changed,” he said. “It turned so cold you could have hung
meat in there.”
Shortly thereafter, said Gaglio, the bank called him and “verbally
turned down my account because of the ‘international dealings’ issue.”
“I asked them, ‘If it doesn’t matter to me and it’s not a problem for
me, then why does it matter to you?’” he told WorldNetDaily. “She told
me I’d have to talk to the bank manager about it, but he was on vacation
for three weeks.”
After six weeks and several unsuccessful phone calls to the manager,
said Gaglio, he finally received a letter from the bank. In it,
officials at Commonwealth “apologized for any confusion” and finally
admitted why they had turned him down.
“There are times when we determine not to open an account due to the
nature of the business that is being conducted by the account holder,”
the letter said. Commonwealth told Gaglio they had “determined based on
the nature of your business” that the bank “does not wish to have your
firm as a customer. …” The letter, written by bank president J. E.
Causey Davis, was dated Aug. 25, 1998.
In a written response, Gaglio questioned the logic of the decision
and reminded Causey that his business was not only very legal, but
“licensed on the federal, state and local level.”
“In fact,” he wrote, “a federal (firearms) license requires an FBI
background check with the obvious prerequisite.
“Does the banking industry have controls as stringent?” Gaglio said.
“And what place does a social agenda have in your decision regarding a
Furthermore, he told WorldNetDaily, “my firm was a great source of
regular monthly revenues and profits for this bank.” In a recent
business year, he said, he paid Commonwealth nearly $50,000 in fees
alone. “At the time this was going on, another banker friend of mine
just shook his head in disgust when I told him about it and then showed
him my financial figures.”
And, Gaglio said, “someone told me they wondered if the bank’s
shareholders knew their president had made this kind of decision.”
He added: “I saw this as a trend years ago when it began to happen to
me. Citibank is just following this trend.”
WorldNetDaily has received hundreds of e-mail messages from readers
saying they plan to end their business relationships with Citibank over
the company’s anti-gun policy.
In addition, since WorldNetDaily first reported this story, many
readers have e-mailed WND saying they called Citibank to object to the
policy, only to be told that the allegation in WorldNetDaily’s story was
untrue. This response, of course, contradicts Citibank’s official
admission to WorldNetDaily regarding its “longstanding” no-gun-business
policy. The story has now been picked up and reported by other news
agencies as well, including Fox News and Associated Press.