Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Maryland ammo dealer: 'Mafia-style' feds 'starving manufacturers out of business'

A Maryland ammunition business owner who was just denied banking services says she suspects the federal "Operation Choke Point" is at play -- that feds are trying to starve out the gun and ammo makers.

"I believe the failure of Congress to enact strict gun control led to this method of starving manufacturers out of business," Kat O'Conner, owner of TomKat Ammunition in Gaithersburg, said to The Blaze. "I also believe this is an unfortunate abuse of power. Sadly, I don't see how this is any different that a mafia-style shakedown, promising to leave banks and card processors alone if they 'play along' by foregoing money from certain industries, regardless of their legal status."

O'Conner said she has been unable to obtain a credit card gateway for her clients, or an online pay portal. Meanwhile, she also says that she has always abided federal and state laws, The Blaze reported.

"I do not believe this is mere coincidence," she said, The Blaze reported. "It would not make good business sense and is counter-intuitive for banks and card processors to drop or deny legitimate business activity on their own, unless it was somehow in their best interest to do so."

Operation Choke Point is a Department of Justice and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation program that weeds out so-called high risk businesses -- like casinos, payday lenders, pornography shops, debt collection agencies and gun and ammo dealers -- and stops them from conducting financial transactions.

Senate Republicans just this week asked that Attorney General Eric Holder put an end to the program, saying some establishments are being wrongfully swept into the mix and prevented from doing lawful business. 

"This list appears to have been created with no public input, no compliance guidance or metrics for private entities to follow and with disregard for the legality of a merchant's operation," a letter from Republicans to Mr. Holder read, The Blaze reported. "Further, the list has been used as a pretext by DOJ to limit essential banking services for industries out of favor by this administration."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Consumer Coalition has been lobbying to end Operation Choke Point for some time. 

"This is not a popular program whether you're on the left or the right," said Brian Wise, a senior adviser for the Consumer Coalition, to The Blaze. "What you're talking about is harming a lot of consumers across the country."

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