Is Your Bank Loaded? New Public Scorecard Grades Consumer Banks on Support for the Gun Industry

April 4, 2019

Six of the Nation’s Top 15 Banks Rank an “F” on Gun Violence Prevention

WASHINGTON -- Weeks before the 20th anniversary of the tragic Columbine shooting, five national organizations representing medical professionals, survivors of gun violence and the nation’s largest racial justice organization have partnered with “Guns Down America,” a bolder, broader movement calling for dramatically fewer guns in America, on a new campaign to encourage the nation’s largest consumer banks to stop doing business with the gun industry and its lobby.

“We have too many guns and they are too easy to get, and that’s in large part because our nation’s largest banks don’t include gun violence prevention in their business decisions,” said Igor Volsky, Founder and Executive Director of Guns Down America. “Consumers deserve to know when they go to the bank whether the bank on their corner is propping up the gun industry with bailouts and campaign cash.”

The new research used to develop the “Is Your Bank Loaded” scorecard found that household brands used by millions of Americans have deep financial relationships with gun makers and the gun lobby’s top political allies. Using this data, Guns Down America graded the banks on a 100-point scale and assigned each financial institution a letter grade that measures their relationships to the gun industry.

North Carolina-based BB&T -- the lowest rated bank -- arranged some $147 million in loans to gun companies between 2012 and 2016. BB&T also committed a $78 million loan to Smith and Wesson that was administered by TD Bank. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo -- dubbed The NRA’s Bankby Bloomberg News -- has extended $471 million in loans and credit to gun makers since 2012.

“Our killer bought his arsenal of 4,000 bullets and his tactical gear online using a credit card. No ID required,” said Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed in Aurora, Colo. “We could not understand how the purchase wasn't flagged and sickened at how many lives might have been saved.”

"Increased lethality drives the gun industry. Six-shot revolvers have been replaced by high-capacity 'pocket rocket' semiautomatic pistols. Fifty caliber sniper rifles, able to penetrate armor plating and down aircraft on take-off and landing, are sold under federal law as easily as bolt-action hunting rifles. The inevitable result is lives lost, families destroyed, and communities traumatized,” said Josh Sugarman, Executive Director of Violence Policy Center.

"The lethality of weapons such as the AR-15 go beyond simply causing injury within its path, but pulverizing the surrounding tissue making it more difficult for healthcare professionals to providing life saving care,” said Joseph V. Sakran, of This is Our Lane, Director of Emergency Surgery at Johns Hopkins, MD, MPH, MPA

The banks and their grades:

The new scorecard ranks consumer banks on financial relationships between banks and gun, ammunition and accessory manufacturers, financial relationships between the banks and the NRA or Gun Owners of America, sponsorships or member benefits provided to NRA members, statements by the banks regarding the need for stronger gun violence prevention laws, and campaign donations to the NRA’s Million Dollar Members. View the full methodology online.

Partners include Color of Change, Survivors Empowered, Newtown Action Alliance, Violence Policy Center, and This is Our Lane.

In May, 2018, Reuters reported that gun maker Remington exited bankruptcy thanks to a $43 million bailout from Bank of America. Just days later, according to media reports, the shooter in Santa Fe, Texas used a Remington-made firearm to kill 10 people and injured 13 more. Remington was also the company that made the AR-15 style weapon used at Sandy Hook to kill 26 people, including 20 first grade students.

Previously, Guns Down America called on Bank of America to follow through on the pledge made after Parkland, end the Remington bailout, and take real steps to fight gun violence. A mobile billboard in Charlotte followed calling on Bank of America to stop funding all gun makers.