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Citigroup sets new policy restricting gun sales by its clients

The bank announced a new firearms policy on Thursday. (Reuters)

Setting itself apart from other major Wall Street banks, Citigroup took a stance in America’s renewed debate on gun control through a commercial firearms policy announced Thursday.

Citi is now mandating that the bank’s new retail sector clients or partners restrict the sale of firearms for people younger than 21 and not sell “bump stocks,” which accelerate the firing of semiautomatic weapons, or high-capacity magazines. The policy also requires those clients not to sell firearms to someone who has not passed a background check, including those whose background checks have not returned after the federally mandated three-day waiting period.

Ed Skyler, Citi’s executive vice president for global public affairs, said in a statement that clients that choose not to adhere to the policy will have their businesses transitioned away from Citi.

The announcement was not spurred by calls to “rid the world of firearms,” Skyler said in the statement. Rather, he said, it’s a response to the fact that grief in the wake of mass shootings rarely inspires lasting action to prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands.

“We know our clients also care about these issues, and we have begun to engage with them in the hope that they will adopt these best practices over the coming months,” Skyler’s statement read.

Citi noted that the bank has limited relationships with firearm manufacturers. But for those few clients, the bank will look at what products those companies make, what markets and retailers they sell to, and what sales practices those manufacturers follow.

Citi’s announcement came ahead of Saturday’s planned March for Our Lives, which is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of protesters to Washington in support of common-sense gun measures.

The new policy also follows a swell of similar announcements from corporations in the weeks after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead. As shooting survivors and others across the country demanded action from companies with ties to the gun industry or the National Rifle Association, many businesses responded by dropping certain partnerships and discount programs.

Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart and Kroger, for example, all made changes to their firearms sales policies.

But Citi’s move is notable within Wall Street. Last month, BlackRock asset management firm said it had contacted firearms manufacturers and distributors to gauge their strategies for preventing mass shootings. And the First National Bank of Omaha discontinued its NRA-branded Visa card.

“We would like to convene those in the financial services industry and other stakeholders to tackle these challenges together and see what we can do,” Skyler wrote.