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Citi shoots down gun-loving clients

Seldom do we see the business world reacting to social issues so overwhelmingly as it did after the Florida school shooting. The latest corporate entity and the first major financial institution to join the growing chorus against firearms sale in the U.S. is Citigroup [C].

The bank has asked its corporate and small clients to stop selling guns to those aged below 21 years and to refrain from selling bump stocks. The companies involved in the firearm business are also required to carry out background checks before going ahead with the sale. Citi will stop doing business with those who fail to comply with the rules.

Picture Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Though similar restrictions were imposed by retailers Walmart (WMT) and Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS), Citigroup’s move is seen as the most potent reaction to the issue so far from the country’s banking sector.

Soon after the tragic incident in which 17 people died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month, companies from across all industries came out strongly against the National Rifle Association and initiated measures to end their direct and indirect association with the gun advocacy agency.

Delta Air Lines (DAL), car-rental company Hertz Global Holdings (HTZ) and insurance firm MetLife (MET) were quick to respond by stopping discount agreements with the NRA, which promotes discounts on various services, ranging from insurance to travel, with the aim of luring new members. That the school shooting happened at a time when the anti-gun sentiment had reached the tipping point proved disastrous for the NRA.

The companies are also required to carry out background checks before selling firearms

The decision by Chubb Insurance (CB) to discontinue its legal cover for those who shoot in ‘self-defence’ was a morale booster for the anti-gun campaigners. Another such gesture came from First National Bank of Omaha, which announced plans to cancel its branded credit card deal with the NRA, on completion of the current contract.

Meanwhile, the authorities invariably find it a tough nut to crack whenever there is a public outcry against firearms, which is evident from the not-so-successful attempts to impose restrictions in the past.  The main hassle in the way of bringing out effective legislation is the right conferred by the constitution to possess firearms.

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