Financial Gun Control: Obama-Funded Corporations Targeting Gun Sellers
Around the State
Corporations close to the Obama administration have implemented policies targeting gun sellers in the months since the Sandy Hook shooting, leading some to wonder if anti-Second Amendment liberals are trying to accomplish through political pressure what they've been unable to do through legislation.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that General Electric (GE) Capital is cutting off all financial services with retailers whose primary business is the sale of firearms. That news comes a little over a week after Comcast announced it will no longer be selling ads to Florida's gun retailers.
“These are very discriminatory and unfair moves against the firearms industry,” Lake County Property Appraiser Carey Baker, a former state senator and longtime owner of A.W. Peterson Gun Shop in Mount Dora, the nation's oldest continuously-operating gun shop, tells Sunshine State News. “I believe these companies have succumbed to [Obama] administration pressure. ... This is all coming to a head in what I think is a concerted effort to discriminate, to marginalize, and eventually eliminate the firearms industry. And I believe it's politically motivated.”
Baker admits he has no hard evidence of the Obama administration having orchestrated, or collaborated in the development of, these policies; but both GE and Comcast have been the recipients of the administration's generous corporate welfare to favored companies.
As of October 2010, GE had received about $25 million in Obama stimulus grants, and as of July 12 had received at least $3 billion of taxpayer money to subsidize “green technology.” The company was one of the chief donors to Obama's 2008 and 2012 election campaigns, and GE's CEO (since 2001) Jeffrey R. Immelt headed the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness from Feb. 23, 2011, to Jan. 31, 2013.
Comcast, another major Obama campaign contributor, for its part has received tens of millions of dollars in stimulus money since 2008. The company owns MSNBC, frequently documented to be the most biased of the cable news networks – in favor of the Democratic Party. Two of the network's newest contributors are former Obama strategist David Axelrod and former spokesman Robert Gibbs.
Another Obama stimulus beneficiary, Cerburus Capital Management, announced shortly after the Sandy Hook shootings that it was divesting from all gun investments, and would be selling Freedom Group, the nation's largest firearms manufacturer.
In January, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel – Obama's former White House chief of staff – sent a letter to stimulus-recipient Bank of America, urging the bank to suspend its services with gun companies that declined to adopt certain restrictions. While the bank says it has no corporate policy against financing gun sellers or manufacturers, at least two sellers – American Spirit Arms and McMillan Firearms Manufacturing – have alleged that they were told by local Bank of America representatives that their business was no longer wanted.
GE declined an interview with SSN, instead sending along an unsigned statement apparently identical to one partially quoted in the Wall Street Journal and attributed to spokesman Russell Wilkerson. Despite being asked multiple times, GE would not say whether their new policy was adopted at the behest of, or in consultation with, Obama administration officials.
On the other hand, Kellie Grutko, vice president of marketing for Comcast Spotlight, denied that her company collaborated with the administration to adopt its policy.
“Consistent with longstanding NBC policies, Comcast Spotlight has decided it will not accept advertising for firearms or weapons moving forward,” she explained. “This policy aligns us with the guidelines in place at many media organizations.”
Possible collaboration with a reigning governmental administration aside, Baker says Comcast's discrimination against gun sellers is problematic for another reason: the company yields a state governmental monopoly on the provision of cable services in his area, and throughout much of the Sunshine State.
“For me that's very detrimental, because Comcast has the legal monopoly in my area,” he explains, saying he's advertised with the company for some 20 years. “They're state-franchised, there is no other cable operator, so I've esentially been shut out of affordable TV advertisement.”
A legal remedy may be on the way, though almost certainly not this legislative session, which wraps up in a few days. On Friday, the Lake County Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution censuring Comcast and calling on the Florida Legislature to take action.
“When we grant a legal monopoly for whatever reason, with that comes an obligation: if you have this monopoly, you have to provide, in a reasonable manner, access to the public,” Baker insists. “I don't want [Comcast] to be forced to run any crazy ad that someone wants to run, but I just don't think they can have a broad-based ban over an entire legal, constitutionally-protected industry.
“Of course, ultimately I just wish our large corporate citizens would just do the right thing; I don't want to pass legislation, I'd rather they'd just do the right thing.”
Reach Eric Giunta at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (954) 235-9116.