South Dakota officials react to Citigroup's restriction on firearms policy

Published: Mar. 26, 2018 at 6:27 PM CDT
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Restrict gun sales or else. That's what Citigroup is telling its business partners.

Last week Citigroup issued its new firearms policy, becoming the first major U.S. bank to take a financial stand in the national debate over gun control.

Citi's Executive Vice President said the company has waited for common sense measures to help prevent firearms from getting into the wrong hands, but that action hasn't come. That’s why the company, which employs more than 1,600 people in Sioux Falls, is taking a stand.

It is something that has many in South Dakota voicing their own concerns.

“This is a constitutionally protected right. The second amendment is incredibly important to the people of South Dakota and what Citibank did was to come out and infringe on that right,” South Dakota Republican Rep. Kristi Noem said.

Citigroup is taking a stand against gun violence and doing quote "their part" to make a change. The company is now requiring clients and partners to restrict firearm sales to anyone younger than 21 and buyers who haven't passed a background check. The policy also bans them from selling bump stocks and high-capacity magazines.

“Generally they're permitted to change whatever policy that they want to change in terms of who they do business with. Obviously this is a hot button issue right now so this is kind of a unique circumstance in that regard,” Swier Law Firm Attorney, Michael Henderson said.

Representative Kristi Noem, a vocal supporter of the second amendment, has been critical of the announcement, even tweeting that it's "troubling”.

“I do not think it’s a business’s place to mandate to people, that they do business with, especially a bank, that they have to comply with their own set of rules and regulations,” Noem said.

Citi hopes clients will adopt these practices, but if they decide not to, the company promises to work with them to transition their business away from Citi.

“They’re entitled to do business with who they want to and to create certain policies regarding that. They’re not a governmental entity, which would cause potential constitutional ramifications. They’re just a private business,” Henderson said.

“It’s a wonderful employer in the state of South Dakota. We're thrilled that it’s here, but we also don’t like to see these types of policies come forward that infringe on people second amendment rights and I would very strongly encourage them to change that policy,” Noem said.

Attorneys KSFY spoke with said they believe this is more of a public relations issue rather than a legal issue. Citi now joins a growing group of business taking that stand against gun violence. Citi’s policy will apply company-wide, but won't prevent customers from using their Citi cards at businesses of their choice.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated Citigroup employed around 16,000 people in Sioux Falls, rather than 1,600.