A News Politics — 08 October 2014

Kat OconnorOperation Choke Point is an initiative of the Department of Justice to “choke off” so-called high-risk merchants from financial services needed, but some say it is being used to target businesses that buy or sell guns and ammunition.

“My business is a victim of Operation Choke Point—a government program run by the U.S. Department of Justice—which shuts down businesses it doesn’t like by cutting off their access to banks and payment processors. In my case, that’s TomKat Ammunition, which sells ammunition in Maryland,” Kat O’Connor stated in a letter to The Daily Signal.

So-called “high-risk industries” identified by the DOJ and FDIC include, “Ponzi Schemes, Credit Card Schemes, Escort Services, Get Rich Products, Racist Materials, Debt Consolidation Scams” and, if you’d believe it, “Firearm Sales and Ammunition Sales,” according to Wikipedia.

“I believe the failure of Congress to enact strict gun control led to this method of starving manufacturers out of business,” O’Connor told The Blaze. “I also believe this is an unfortunate abuse of power. Sadly, I don’t see how this is any different than 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,” she added.

Operation Choke Point was implemented without Congressional approval or knowledge. Republican Senators sent a letter this week to Attorney General, Eric Holder, asking him to stop the program.

According to The Blaze, the letter stated, “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. Further, the list has been used as a pretext by DOJ to limit essential banking services for industries out of favor by this administration.”

O’Connor said PNC Bank denied her online payment services because they “could not extend us services due to our ‘industry.’” In August, PayPal told her they could not offer her services “due to my line of work.” Another online processing company, Square Reader, told her they no longer allow businesses to process gun or ammunition purchases.

The Washington Post points out the hypocrisy of DOJ’s targeting in an article by Todd Zywicki. “Especially ironic, of course, is that while the DOJ and bank regulators are choking off financial services to legal industries, they are also encouraging banks to provide banking services to illegal marijuana sales.”

“Operation Choke Point is like so many other secretive ways government is overstepping its reach in an attempt to severely control guns and ammunition,” said Stephen Aldstadt, President of SCOPE NY.  “Americans need to do the one thing they can to stop this madness – get out and vote in November,” he added.

For O’Connor and others who are being “choked” by the Department of Justice, the only recourse appears to be through the ballot box.

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