Bank of America will stop lending money to gun manufacturers that make military-inspired firearms for civilian use, such as the AR-15-style rifles that have been used in multiple mass shootings, a company executive said Tuesday.
The policy is the latest example of Wall Street wading into the divisive gun control debate after Citigroup’s announcement last month that it would require business customers to restrict certain types of firearms sales.
“We want to contribute in any way we can to reduce these mass shootings,” Anne M. Finucane, vice chairwoman at the Bank of America, said on Bloomberg TV.
The bank works with “just a handful of manufacturers,” with whom it has had “intense conversations over the last few months,” Ms. Finucane said. Their reactions to the new policy have been “mixed,” she said.
Bank of America would not name any of the gun manufacturers it works with, but its clients include well-known, publicly held brands. The bank will wind down its relationships with the companies that choose to continue making AR-15-style rifles and similar guns.
There are few investor-owned gun makers in the United States. One of them, American Outdoor Brands Corporation, which owns the Smith & Wesson brand, has seen its stock shed half its value in the past year. Another, Sturm, Ruger & Company, has fared much better, dipping only slightly. Both companies make AR-15-style rifles.
For now, Bank of America will continue to offer banking services to firearms retailers. Asking gun shops to stop selling certain types of handguns or long guns “gets into civil liberties” and is “a ways off,” Ms. Finucane said.
Corporations piled into the gun-control debate after a shooting at a school in Parkland, Fla., in February left 17 people dead and fueled a nationwide boycott effort against companies that had become partners with the powerful National Rifle Association trade group. Businesses including car rental companies, airlines, dating apps and Walmart scaled back their exposure to guns.
Wall Street, with its many ties to the gun industry, was slower to act. BlackRock said it was asking major gun makers and sellers about their business practices. Bank of America did the same.
In March, Citigroup was the first big bank to issue a new firearms policy, requiring clients in the gun industry to stop selling to customers who have not passed a background check or are younger than 21.
Citigroup also bars clients who use its lending, banking or capital-raising services from selling bump stocks and high-capacity magazines.