June 5, 2019
Saleforce.com’s discrimination against the firearms industry isn’t capitalism at work. It’s a threat to our rights.
Editor’s Note: This op-ed appeared in The Federalist on June 4, 2019 and is republished here with permission.
Saleforce.com recently, and very quietly, updated the software giant’s acceptable-use policy and it’s sending the reverberations through the firearms and technology industries. It’s Operation Chokepoint all over again, except it’s coming from a select few technology insiders most Americans likely never heard of before.
Salesforce’s executives claim to be standing on their corporate foundational principals. They’re really walling off the industry that provides the means for American citizens to exercise basic constitutional rights. What gun control advocates can’t achieve through the legislative process they’re attempting to do through corporate fiat – policymaking from the penthouse boardroom. A quick examination of Salesforce’s new policy restrictions proves this.
They list off a series of disqualifying cosmetic features commonly found on modern sporting rifles, including semiautomatic rifles capable of accepting detachable magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, pistol grips, barrel shrouds, flash and sound suppressors. The throw in grenade launchers for good measure. The language is eerily similar to that found in U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 that fellow California Sen. Kamala Harris co-sponsors.
This is corporate policy virtue signaling at best. At worst, it is an effort to squeeze out of existence the industry that makes it possible for American citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights, equip our military and brave law enforcement officers who protect our nation and our communities.
Forbes’ columnist Bruce Weinstein wrote a column saying the National Shooting Sports Foundation has it all wrong. This is just the way capitalism works and dove into stereotypes of what sort of American owns guns (hint for you, Bruce… even Sen. Harris admitted to being a gun owner and I’m pretty sure she’s not a Caucasian, male Republican.) Weinstein likened the firearms industry’s concerns of blatant corporate discrimination to forcing Chik-Fil-A to open on Sundays and serve sandwiches with their trademark unfailing “my pleasure” service.
It’s a nice try, but not quite.
Eating tasty fried chicken sandwiches on the Lord’s Day of Rest is not an American right. But owning a firearm is, just like the freedom to worship is. Suggesting otherwise is conflating issues. The firearms industry provides the means to exercise a constitutionally protected right. As much as I’d like Chik-Fil-A to be mentioned in the Bill of Rights, it’s not.
Let’s put this into terms that Weinstein might find a little closer to home. What happens when Salesforce denies Forbes use of their products and services because they don’t like what’s printed? That’s boardroom bureaucrats imposing political views on the lawful products another company sells. Denying the press the ability to exercise Americans’ First Amendment rights would, and should, raise our hackles.
There’s a process for changing public policy and laws. It’s through the ballot box by electing officials to represent our interests in Washington D.C. It’s not done through nameless, faceless, and unaccountable executive elites in corporate high rises. Weinstein isn’t arguing for capitalism. He’s promoting an oligarchy – where a cabal of businessmen control what we think, whether we own a gun, or Lord forbid, whether we can eat a delicious, crispy chicken sandwich.
Salesforce’s move isn’t new or original. Bank of America and Citibank have made similar moves. They all announced, in one form or another, they would no longer do business with companies that sold modern sporting rifles – or AR-15’s. That was enough to catch not just the firearm’s industry’s attention, but also the attention of Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), who sent a letter to the banking giant CEO’s in March demanding answers to their discriminatory practices.
“Banks serve customers who are geographically and politically diverse, and it is wrong to use essential banking services as a way to choke off such services to lawful, creditworthy businesses,” Crapo wrote in the letters.
It was also why Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) sponsored the Freedom Financing Act, S. 821, which would prevent financial institutions from accessing taxpayer-subsidized government programs when they are at the same time denying banking services to lawful and compliant industries.
What’s closer to the truth is Salesforce is buying onto the New York Times’ columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin’s Orwellian notion that credit card companies, and Salesforce, should monitor customer purchases and deny any related to firearms. Visa and Mastercard said this was a dangerous precedent and their role in commerce was to facilitate an efficient process.
Salesforce would be wise to buy off that menu. And try the waffle fries. They’re great.
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