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Gun Shop Owner’s Bank Account Closed, Feds Say “High Risk” Business

BROOKSVILLE – The relationship between a small business and their financial institution is an essential bond. It’s almost unheard of for a bank to sever ties with a legitimate and profitable business unless they discover illegal activity. But that is exactly the case for one local business owner, after SunTrust Bank decided to close all his accounts due to the business no longer meeting their “criteria.”

Steve Champion, owner of American Gun & Pawn on E. Jefferson Street, received a letter from SunTrust last week, advising him of their decision. The letter states “SunTrust continuously reviews its products, markets, and client relationships… There are circumstances where we will identify a specific account relationship that no longer meets these criteria. In the best interest of our clients and SunTrust, we will request that those accounts be closed.”

Perplexed by SunTrust’s decision, Champion decided to do a little research, and it didn’t take long for him to discover a Federal Initiative called “Operation Choke Point”, aimed at what he says is an attack on gun owners and the 2nd Amendment.

In 2013, the Department of Justice began serving subpoenas to financial institutions who do business with payment processors and businesses they deem to be undesirable. The DOJ claims “Operation Choke Point” is an effort to combat money laundering operations and fraud. The FDIC even provided a list of 30 “High Risk” business types to the DOJ that are being actively pursued. Pornography, Surveillance Equipment, Racist Material, and Drug Paraphernalia join firearm and ammunition sales as “High Risk” businesses. Champion says he has done nothing wrong and that he runs a legitimate business “These big companies that infringe on our constitutional rights need to be held accountable” says Champion.

A similar incident occurred last year in South Carolina, after SunTrust severed ties with Pawn Shop Owner Morris Williams. In a recent Washington Post article, Williams says …”the government can “choke off” the oxygen (money) needed for these industries to survive. Without an ability to process payments, the businesses – especially online vendors — cannot survive.”

Many believe this is nothing more than another attempt by the Left (Liberals) and anti-gun activists to put more pressure on gun owners and limit the ability to buy and sell firearms and ammunition.

Following a Federal Investigation in January of this year, the FDIC issued this letter to Financial Institutions, “The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) issued a Financial Institution Letter today encouraging supervised institutions to take a risk-based approach in assessing individual customer relationships, rather than declining to provide banking services to entire categories of customers without regard to the risks presented by an individual customer or the financial institution’s ability to manage the risk.”

We tried to reach SunTrust for comment but they declined.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ™2013 – 2015 Real News Real Fast, Inc.

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  • So if operation choke point is shut down then why are pawn shops still being targeted?

    Friday, 17 April 2015, 9:11 pm
  • This particular story hit the national news this AM! Was shown of Fox News!

    Monday, 6 April 2015, 8:42 am
  • it was on the news that this happens to all businesses like this…. Bank of America did it also.

    Sunday, 5 April 2015, 5:10 am
    • YUP! And the banks should be fighting back for the sake of their customer as well as the banks well being, not just kowtowing to our out of control governments’ demands!

      Monday, 6 April 2015, 8:47 am
  • To: MerF- you can Google and Snopes all you want as both sites owned and supported by ultra liberal people and groups. They tow the progressive-democratic mantra to destroy the free market and conservatives especially gun owners.
    Several other businesses in the area have suffered the same faith by Sun Trust, Bank of America and Square (payment company).
    Your buddy Holder made a big announcement several weeks ago on illegal governments seizures of individuals property involved in various crimes but CHOKE POINT continues moving on closing small honest tax paying business that cannot get any banking services.

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 4:38 pm
  • Hey liberal merf your wrong and were dummies were the ones that will put our life on the line so u can call us dummies..RC has got it right there read it or do you need me to write in Arabic or maybe farsi.There is a bigger picture here and we are not gonna take much more stock up ladys and gents you all have a great day.

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 2:56 pm
  • This is ridiculous! I personally own 2 guns & if i was ever gonna buy another it would be from Steve Champion! He is an honest business man, just trying to make an honest living!

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 2:34 pm
  • Glad I don’t bank at SUN TRUST

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 12:25 pm
  • Hey dummies. With 13 seconds of magical Google you can discover that Operation Choke Point was shut down.

    This is your pure, wonderful, free-market at work.

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 9:04 am
    • YUP! Congress voted to defund it, but since when did this administration listen to Congress! As seen by this example and others it is still going on, so believe what you want to believe! Personally I no longer trust the Federal government, especially under this administration!

      Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 11:05 am
  • If I had an account with them, it’d be closed by end of day. Shut it down, people! They apparently forgot who their real business comes from!

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 9:02 am
  • I guess SUN TRUST only wants criminal’s to have guns to protect themselves from getting shot when they rob law abiding citizen’s

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 8:39 am
  • Correction “them”

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 8:16 am
  • So let me get this straight. They don’t want you to buy one legally that is registered in your name. Right? But you can get one on the street and you will never know who owns the firearm. If people want guns they will get them here in our county or elsewhere. Why PUNK on the small business owners that are selling th legally?!

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 8:14 am
  • Tom, GREAT reporting to bring this overt situation by the U.S. Government on small businesses to the forefront. People are just not aware of what this means to each of us.
    Thanks for doing a great job and being an honest journalist.

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 7:55 am
  • Operation CHOKE POINT is the brainchild of Obama-Holder and has been affecting legit businesses the last couple years by putting extreme federal pressure on banks to CHOKE businesses out of business. The businesses being targeted are gun shops, gun ranges, pawn shops, payday loan businesses etc. see the pattern?
    We the people better wake up now as this is not going away only getting worse. Please STOP doing business with Sun Trust (remember they got our money to operate during the meltdown). Please flood Representative Nuggents office with calls objecting to this government over reach and BEWARE as this administration is not done infringing on our constitutional rights yet.

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 7:49 am
  • We s

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 7:34 am
  • I’m moving my gun shop accounts to local credit unions. I’m much happier, and it’s safer!

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 7:05 am
  • He should check into a credit union. They are run differently and managed differently than banks are, even though they are federal. May be worth a look into. Then again, there’s always the Bahamas, caymans, and Switzerland.

    Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 1:16 am
    • FYI! The Suncoast Credit Union is NOT federal! It operates under rules of the State of Florida!

      Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 10:54 am
  • This should bother you, no matter what your mindset…the government has their nasty fingers in EVERYTHING.

    Monday, 30 March 2015, 10:19 pm
    • YUP! And if it hasn’t touched you yet, just wait, it will!

      Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 12:22 am
  • The re-call election in Colorado should have been a wake-up call. The Senate shake up should have been a larger wake up call. PAY ATTENTION OUT THERE! IT DOESN’T MATTER WHETHER YOU LOVE OR HATE FIREARMS! It’s the “big brother” thing. Too much power held by too few. I could understand if the Feds found a like to illegal activity but that is not what this is about. I don’t think one Democrat will be associating with this administration by next election. A sticker on my window says “I’M the N.R.A. and I VOTE”.

    Monday, 30 March 2015, 8:11 pm
  • This is another example of Obama and his gun grabbing buddies at work behind the scenes. This is total BS and everyone 2nd Amendment supporter should close any and all accounts they have with Sun Trust, and make sure they know why!! Makes me sick what this corrupt government is doing.

    Monday, 30 March 2015, 7:24 pm
  • We were smart enough to dump them years ago but after this I know a lot more ppl that are going to do the same. Stock up on ur weapons while u still can ppl!!

    Monday, 30 March 2015, 6:47 pm
  • Gun shops and pawn shops are booming businesses! They only risk they have is a REPRESSIVE government shutting them down!

    Monday, 30 March 2015, 6:24 pm
  • I don’t agree with SunTrusts policy, but ar the same time I hate guns. Too many people who should NEVER have a weapon in their hands can get one way too easy…just sayin’

    Monday, 30 March 2015, 6:10 pm
    • YUP! The criminals have a lot of them and they did NOT get them at a gun shop!

      Monday, 30 March 2015, 6:26 pm
    • to jayne B alot of people shoudnt have knives either maybe you can get them banned..just saying

      Tuesday, 31 March 2015, 3:11 pm
  • lets show them we the public can shut suntrust down,pull your accounts,post all media,It is time 2 band together

    Monday, 30 March 2015, 6:04 pm
  • I have pulled my money out make sure when you pull yours to tell the manager why you are closing it

    Monday, 30 March 2015, 3:04 pm
    • YUP! Good point! Make sure they know why! And be sure to let friends and relatives know! Sun Trust is not just in Florida!

      Monday, 30 March 2015, 3:32 pm
  • Horrible! Have done business with these guys they are awesome! Definately recommend buying from them. Show your support go spend your tax return there on some freedom!

    Monday, 30 March 2015, 1:43 pm
  • I second that just got back done with suntrust, Sam is correct. I think people need history lesson didn’t hitler start doing this in the 30s WAKE UP PEOPLE CLOSE THE ACCOUNTS. Have a blessed day.

    Monday, 30 March 2015, 1:13 pm
  • Going to take my money out so are my parents and neighbors I suggest everyone do the same

    Monday, 30 March 2015, 12:46 pm
    • YUP! If the people really get involved, WE have the bigger stick!

      Monday, 30 March 2015, 1:20 pm
  • Close your Sun Trust Account! I am! Our UN- ELECTED BUREAUCRACIES are out of control!

    Monday, 30 March 2015, 12:42 pm

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