Senate votes to protect gun dealers from discrimination by banks

Georgia gun dealers who say they have been discriminated against by banks would get some protection under a bill passed by the Georgia Senate on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 282, , known as the "Georgia Firearms Industry Nondiscrimination Act" and sponsored by Sen. Jesse Stone, would prevent banks from refusing to offer financial services to firearms dealers.

Stone, R-Waynesboro, said the bill is necessary to combat a federal Department of Justice program known as Operation Choke Point that he said resulted in some gun dealers being rejected for services by banks.

Stone said one dealer told a Senate panel that he had been denied a checking account by 26 banks even though he had a pristine credit record.

“It was because he was a fire-arms dealer,” Stone said. “because of the pressure being put on the banks to choke off financial services to that sector. The program, Operation Choke Point, arbitrarily assigns greater risks to people because they are firearms dealers.”

The Republican controlled-Georgia Senate passed the bill in a party-line vote, over opposition from Democrats who argued that the bill was unnecessary and unfair to other industries and categories of people not offered the same protections.

The bill has also been opposed by the banking industry, which warned against legislating a protected status for one industry and forcing them to offer services to any particular business.

Stone’s bill was amended Wednesday to remove a provision that would have allowed any dealer to sue for discrimination. A revision requires the state attorney general investigate any possible discrimination to prevent frivolous lawsuits.

The bill now moves to the state House for consideration.