FOX News: DOJ Accused of Blocking Legal Gun Shops From Banking


Mike Schuetz operates a small gun shop in northern Wisconsin called Hawkins Guns. In November, just before one of his peak selling times, his local credit union notified him his account needed to be closed.

“The bank manager said they made a mistake, and they were not supposed to open accounts for those people involved in high-risk industries, which the gun industry and ammunition industry is one of those,” Schuetz said.

It turned out there was a list created by a Justice Department program called Operation Choke Point. The list equates legal gun sellers like Schuetz with escort services, Ponzi schemes, people who sell cable TV de-scramblers — and at least 30 other industries.

The program, which is facing tough questions in Congress, intimidates banks with the threat of heightened scrutiny and increased audits if accounts are maintained in those industries.

Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., said Operation Choke Point began as a means of combating fraudulent businesses — but evolved into an arbitrary list of businesses targeted by bureaucrats in the DOJ and banking regulators purely on moral grounds, backed by no legislation

“What they’ve done is they put short-term lenders out of business, gun dealers out of business, ammunition manufacturers out of business. Because in America, if you can’t bank, you can’t do business,” Duffy said.

In northern Wisconsin, Schuetz became suspicious that something strange was happening after his issue with the local credit union. So he concealed an audio recorder and visited his credit union.

A manager and then a regional manager told Schuetz the credit union wanted his business, but he had indeed been placed on a list of “high risk” industries.

“We’re really not anti-gun as a company but our hands are tied, and I feel horrible about this. I didn’t sleep last night,” regional manager Troy Ewer said.

Fox News found several more businesses — from payment processors to ammunition dealers to pawn shop owners to short-term lenders — who all had their bank accounts closed. In response to an inquiry from Fox News, a spokesman for the DOJ wrote, “We do not target businesses operating within the bounds of the law, and we have no interest in pursuing or discouraging lawful conduct.”

Duffy said, “That’s a bald-faced lie.”

Fox News was provided a DOJ memo in reference to short-term or payday lenders that seems to suggest an indifference to harming legal businesses. “Although we recognize the possibility that banks may have therefore decided to stop doing business with legitimate lenders, we do not believe that such decisions should alter our investigative plans,” Michael Blume, director of the department’s Consumer Protection Branch, wrote.

A spokesman for the DOJ said that the “high-risk merchants” list was produced by the FDIC.

However, Brian Wise, of the U.S. Consumer Coalition, pointed out that the FDIC sits on the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, which is the driving force of Operation Choke Point and is chaired by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Also, starting in August of 2013, the DOJ issued subpoenas to banks and payment processors.

Wise, with the Consumer Coalition, says there are hundreds and even thousands of businesses across the nation who have had bank accounts closed, and they may not even know their bank was intimidated by Operation Choke Point. “This is one of the greatest abuses of power that the country has never heard of,” Wise said.


In a major development concerning discrimination in how financial services and products were withheld from firearms-related businesses due to “Operation Choke Point,” the top officials of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) have admitted wrongdoing and said they would cease such practices

Participating in Operation Choke Point, which was spearheaded by the Department of Justice, the FDIC had classified some industries as high risk: Cable Box De-scramblers, Credit Repair Services, Dating Services, Drug Paraphernalia, Escort Services, Ponzi Schemes, Pornography, and Racist Materials, to name a few. Included in this group were “Ammunition Sales” and “Firearms Sales.”

U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) released a statement after a meeting with Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Chairman Martin Gruenberg and Vice Chairman Tom Hoenig discussing the agency’s involvement in Operation Choke Point.

“Today is a turning point in the fight against Operation Choke Point. This morning, I met with Chairman Gruenberg and Vice Chairman Hoenig to discuss the FDIC’s activity with Operation Choke Point. Not only did the Chairman and the Vice Chairman acknowledge wrongdoing within the organization, but they have accepted many of the policies put forth in my legislation, the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act.

“I’m pleased that FDIC is implementing these important changes without delay. I’m also pleased that the Chairman and Vice Chairman have joined me in calling on the FDIC Inspector General to conduct a formal investigation of the program and any staff who have played or may have played a role in the program. The bottom line is the FDIC knows the culture at the agency must be changed and I will continue to monitor to make sure the agency sticks to its word.

“I fully intend on reintroducing my legislation because we must ensure these changes will be codified into law, that the Department of Justice ends its misuse of authority, and that other agencies don’t ever fall into this illegal and abusive practice.”

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  • HDMania

    Obummer and the banksters want control of everything..solution ?..Take your money out of the banks and buy gold and silver..

    • allen

      and who will make change for a gold bar or a coin after TSHTF? don’t skimp on the trade goods. honey NEVER goes bad, is easily divided, and you can eat it, cook with it, and use it as an antibacterial wound dressing. a lot more useful than gold. gold doesn’t fill a belly or keep the rain off your head.

      • reggiec

        check out Valcambi gold and silver combi bars.

        • allen

          problem with gold is that if the fertilizer really does hit the air mover..who will want it? you could be sitting on Smaug’s treasure hoard and still be dirt poor. like any money..it’s only worth something because someone thinks it’s worth something.

          • reggiec

            I was replying to the “making change” portion of your post. If our fiat money fails, the Valcambi combi bars are easily divided into one gram mini bars. This would allow a person to use gold or silver to purchase items and reduce the amount of fiat money he might get as change.

          • ADRoberts

            The assumption is that it will be bad, but not that bad. You see, if someone has something that they will sell and you have a desire to buy it, they WILL accept the money that is the oldest money in the world. It IS a means of trade as a medium of exchange. And just about everyone will recognize it.
            The ONLY question is whether there will be anything at all to buy.

          • Chuck W.

            I was in the Navy on the Island of Guam when Saigon fell in 1975. The Cambodian refugees that came through Guam on the way to the USA had unbelievable amounts of gold on them. Regular peasants that couldn’t buy a bowl of rice at the time SO. Vietnam fell. We confiscated all of their valuables when they arrived in tent city, that’s how I know. What I don’t know is if the USA ever gave them their gold back. Point is you can have a ton of gold and starve to death. Put your money in food, and things to barter with. Alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana…you get the point.

          • allen

            on the Jim Bohanon show the other night they had on Lev Golinkin, who wrote a book titled “A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka”. his family got out of russia in the 1980’s

            the vodka was for trading and bribes. its an interesting story, and quite illustrative of how to survive in a fascist/socialist state and how to get out. problem is, right now…where else do we go?

    • Bill1966

      Better to put your nest egg into items that can be traded and will be wanted. Best bet is long storage food items, water filters and other items needed for basic survival. Top thing is of course ammo and fuels. Can not eat gold. Look back at what the natives of this country found most useful for trade when the settlers first landed. They valued the knives and axes more then the pretty trinkets.

      • ADRoberts

        You forgot guns. They will hold value IF you can keep them from being confiscated.

      • Shorty Stuff

        Buy or make a moonshine still … best currency there is.

  • Centurian2010

    I can think of a lot of high risk industries, let’s see…the automotive industry, kitchen utensil industry, baseball bat industry, farming tools industry, the archery industry, the list is too long to go on and is almost endless. It is people, not the guns that kill, but this administration is only prejudice against the industry where we stand the best chance of defending ourselves.

  • HDMania

    Say Allen..Need some work on your car ?..maybe some work on your house ?..I guess you have hundreds of gals of honey laying around ?..Honey aint gonna keep the rain off your head either..gold and silver is just as good as your honey..its been around for millions of yrs..it was good for trade then and it will be good now..

    • allen

      so, I have a can of soup and all you have is a gold bar…your family is starving…how much is the can of soup worth? one gold bar, thank you. assuming you can get me to trade for something that’s inherently worthless…gold is only worth something because people want it..if I don’t want it, how much is it worth?

      same scenario, but you have several gallons of honey. we trade one half quart of honey for one can of soup. we both walk away happy. you can feed your family and I can use the honey to bake something, because I was out of sugar.

      • reggiec

        Actually the only real way to insure your survival is to be able to produce something on your own without outside input, that will feed you and your family and have some left over to trade for something else you want or need that you cannot produce yourself.
        Very few people are in a position to do that. Especially because Obama signed an executive order that if the SHTF the government can come a take anything and everything you have. Preppers will be classified as hoarders and subject to criminal prosecution.
        Hell there are some cities that won’t even let residents grow a garden.
        If you are not a bee keeper and produce your own honey how will you get it?

        • allen

          all very true. a skill is something they cannot take away.

          and yes, we have beekeepers in our group and we are all passingly familiar with the processes involved. cross-training is a good thing!

          • reggiec

            I am fortunate enough to live in a very rural area so I can be almost self sufficient.
            I grow and can a huge variety of produce, I grow and bottle my own wine (also use some for jellies and syrup, which is awesome), I grow olive trees for oil and table olives, I grow and harvest several varieties of nuts, apples and other fruit.
            Also off the grid on solar power, have my own water supply and septic system. I do not depend on any government agency for any services except law enforcement or fire if needed. so far none needed for 20 + years.
            Good luck!

  • Mrs. Patriot

    Ok, Americans, where’s that ingenuity? Start conservative bank. Screw the feds. If they can break the law so can we.

  • Marlin208

    And just what is this government going to do to stop this? Congress better get off of their rear ends and start doing something with this usurper. Instead they are handing him more power. Pay pal now does not allow buying guns over the Internet , so now they will drive out all the gun shops. All the white presidents we have had and it only takes one corrupt black one to take our freedoms away.

  • Musicman

    Why is this being made ‘news’ again by so many ‘conservative’ sites and organizations?? This is OLD news!

    • freebirds

      1st I heard of it. And I try to keep informed daily.

      • This was covered by most conservative sites over a year ago. But if you all want the latest then you people need to see “Gray State” documentary done by David Crowley. It was just released on the 20th of January. Unfortunately David and his family were murdered on January the 17th. This is a long documentary 2hrs 39mins. but worth it. Its on You Tube.

      • Musicman

        Are you kidding me? You TRY to keep informed? THIS was in the news ( even the liberal media ) like last May of 2014… You must only hear or read sporadically…

  • HDMania

    Well Allen your so obsessed with your honey thats probably all you have and you have to trade someone for some soup because you’re tired of eating your honey..I have honey , soup , and gold bars and some junk silver , guns and ammo and lots of clean water to trade for small stuff..I looked at the bigger picture while you worried about your honey..I bet all your worthless money is tied up in IRAs and saving accounts and stocks so when Obummer takes all that and the cash in your pockets just became your new toilet paper you can sit on the stool eating honey..

    • allen

      you know there is a “REPLY” button there..for..you know..REPLYING to people..perhaps you should familiarize yourself with it and use it.

      I have suggested honey to people who were new to all this as a good place to start. it’s a good trade good, it doesn’t go bad (so poor storage isn’t as much of an issue), it has multiple uses. how are YOU helping new people..or are you one of those types who thinks you got yours…to heck with everyone else?

      I have far more than you have, and I’ve been doing this since the late 90’s, I was at the Sweeney Seige in hamilton,MA right up until the end, and I’ve been operating the 1st Granite State Irregulars since 1995, as well as a founding member of the New England Regional Militia Alliance. what have you done for liberty, besides spout off against people who are on the same side as you?

      how many of your neighbors can you count on? have you worked with local police, fire, and government, so when TSHTF they know who you are and will work with you, or are you all secret squirrel and hoping they will just see all your high-tech-low-drag and just let you in on the party?

      once people figure out you’re not starving…how long before they come knocking on your door? do you have a team..a neighborhood…a town..where you can count on each other, or are you planning on just hunkerin’ down and riding it out?

      the problem with just riding it out is when you pull your punxsatawney phil imitation, and finally stick your head out of the hole..you won’t like the new world. the ones with the guns and no morals just may be running the show, and you best submit, peasant..or else. or you could have been out here making a difference, or at least keeping the chaos out of your little corner of the world.

      so, which are you? groundhog? ostrich? or one of the guys who just might save the world? I’m not judging you. if you’re too afraid of getting hurt to get out there..if you’re physically not capable of doing the heavy lifting required..that’s fine..but don’t piss all over those of us that are, and then tell us it’s raining.

  • The signs of the end times are everywhere…

    As we witness such things as the spread of globalism, the building of a one-world church, the increase of wickedness, the breakdown of the traditional family, the destruction of that priceless bastion of liberty called America, the normalization of homosexuality, the callous murder of babies, the filthy pop culture, the breathtaking increase in governmental surveillance, we become fearful, uncertain, frustrated, angry, and discouraged, but this is because our minds and hearts are too focused on things of this world rather than things above. Too often we have the same short view that “conservative” unbelievers have rather than the long view that comes from the light of Bible prophecy…

    The devil is the god of this world, and his handiwork is evident everywhere, but he is not God and he is not in control of the times and the seasons.

    “Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding” (Dan. 2:20-21).

    We should stand in the confidence that the present evil is exceedingly temporary and will soon be cut down…

    Please visit our Bible Prophecy website at: itshallcometopass.org

  • The Mechanic

    Put The 2nd Amendment On Offense: See link below:


  • ADRoberts

    I see Obama’s fingerprints ALL OVER this abuse of power.
    There should be another investigation. There should be impeachment.
    However, Obama has so MANY scandals and abuses of power, and the Democrats refuse to allow any of them to go forward that we do not have enough investigators to do all the work.
    Obama is a TRAITOR. Obama is in stealth jihad mode. Obama is trying to destroy America and NO ONE IN CONGRESS is even considering stopping him.

  • holycow

    Those idiots need to take a lesson from history. Without guns and ammo protecting those banks for the last 200 years the banking industry would not have survived.