November 09, 2023

Senator Warren, Representative Frost Call for Action from Bank CEOs Against Financing Gun Violence

“As one of the largest financial institutions in the world, you have a responsibility to play a leading role in helping to end this crisis.”

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. — United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Maxwell Alejandro Frost (D-Fla.) sent a letter to six major financial institutions — BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase, Vanguard, Bank of America, Blackstone, and Wells Fargo — calling on them to provide critical information on their efforts to end their financial investments in the gun industry. 

“2023 is now on track to be the deadliest year of mass shootings in recent memory — with the most lethal shooting of the year occurring just recently in Lewiston, Maine,” wrote the lawmakers. “Responsible financial institutions must continue reviewing their actions to determine if they may be unwittingly contributing to this epidemic of gun violence through financing the assault weapons industry.”

In 2018, following the tragic mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida in which a 19-year-old gunman opened fire on students and staff, claiming the lives of 17 people and injuring 17 others, some financial institutions began investigating how their business practices inadvertently contributed to the gun violence epidemic. Yet by the end of September of that same year, Wells Fargo had issued a $40 million line of credit to firearm manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Company, in addition to the $431 million it lent to gunmakers since the 2012 Sandy Hook Shooting — begging the question of how deeply entrenched big banks are with the gun industry.

In the letters, the lawmakers call out these powerful financial institutions for their individual roles in bankrolling the manufacturing and sale of dangerous weapons used to carry out some of the most horrific instances of gun violence. Some of them have made prior commitments to change their involvement with gun manufacturers, while others have made no commitments. 

“The American people deserve to know if some of the most powerful financial institutions in our country are in bed with gun manufacturers and, in turn, profiting off of the gun violence epidemic that has claimed countless innocent lives,” said the lawmakers in a joint statement. “With the tragedy we witnessed in Maine just last month, 2023 is on track to be one of the deadliest years in recent history when it comes to gun violence. These prominent financial institutions have a moral responsibility to play a leading role in helping to end this crisis.”

Senator Warren has led efforts to implement common-sense gun violence prevention measures that protect American communities and save lives, including: 

  • In November 2023, Senators Warren and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), along with Representatives Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) introduced the Ammunition Modernization and Monitoring Oversight (AMMO) Act, legislation that would restrict bulk sales of ammunition, require businesses who sell ammunition to obtain the same federal license as firearm dealers, and require businesses to conduct a background check on ammunition buyers.
  • In September 2023, Senator Warren, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Representative Maxwell Alejandro Frost (D-Fla.) with Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Representatives Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Dina Titus (D-Nev.) and Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) led 68 lawmakers in a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to take further executive action to combat gun violence and limit the sale of assault weapons. These ideas for executive actions to prevent gun violence were endorsed by Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords, and Brady: United Against Gun Violence.
  • In March 2023, Senators Warren and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), urging the departments to issue guidance to financial institutions for the full implementation of the new merchant category (MCC) code that the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved last year for gun and ammunition stores. 
  • In December 2022, Senator Warren and Representative Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) reintroduced the Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act, comprehensive  legislation to help end gun violence in America.
  • In September 2022, Senator Warren and Representative Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) sent letters to the CEOs of MasterCard, American Express, and Visa urging them to support the creation of a new merchant category code for gun and ammunition retailers and to request information about their reported opposition to Amalgamated Bank’s application for such a code.
  • In October 2022, Senator Warren joined Senator Markey in a letter to President Biden calling for the Administration to return oversight of the export of firearms, including ghost guns, and their technical data to the Department of State. 
  • In April 2020, Senator Warren joined Senators Markey, Blumenthal, Murphy, and 12 of their colleagues in calling for strengthening background checks amidst a massive increase in gun sales during the coronavirus emergency.