Operation Choke Point: Feds Pressure Credit Union to Close Wisconsin Gun Dealer’s Bank Account

Reuters/Jim Young
Reuters/Jim Young

A gun dealer in Hawkins, Wisconsin says the federal government forced the Heritage Credit Union to close his recently opened bank account because he’s in the business of legally selling guns.

Mike Schuetz, the owner of Hawkins Guns LLC, a firearms store that sells both guns and ammunition, has audio tapes to support his claims.

The United States Consumer Coalition calls this just the latest example of the extralegal overreach of Operation Choke Point, the Obama administration’s effort to put industries it doesn’t like–especially gun dealers and pay day lenders–out of business.

Schuetz, a former state employee who worked as a probation and parole officer for eight years, is no wild-eyed Tea Partier. In fact, while he was a state employee he joined his fellow union members and picketed the Wisconsin State House to oppose Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to reduce the powers of public sector unions.

But Schuetz tells Breitbart News in an exclusive interview that since he left the employ of the state he started a private investigation company in 2012 and a gun dealership on November 8 of this year. And he actually voted for Walker in 2014. His trouble began when he opened the gun store.

“I had originally opened up an account in town with the local credit union, Heritage Credit Union back in early November, but they called me up on the 13th of November, about a week later and said that I had to come in and close my account because they do not service businesses that deal in guns, and they opened that account in error,” Schuetz tells Breitbart News.

On November 13, Schuetz posted on his Facebook page the surprising news that his recently opened store’s bank account was being shut down by Heritage Credit:

Sorry I had to close this afternoon shortly. You will never guess why? I received a call from Heritage Credit Union in Hawkins, where I set up my business account for Hawkins Guns. They told me I had to close the account because they do not service companies that deal in guns. This is just a back door way for those wanting to infringe upon your rights to keep and bear arms and is nothing more than discrimination to gun owners. I have closed the account and am going to a more freedom loving bank to give my business.

“After that happened with Heritage,” Schuetz tells Breitbart News, “I already had a business account opened with Nicolet National Bank in Phillips, Wisconsin for my private investigation business. The only reason I went to Heritage originally is that Phillips, where Nicolet is located, is 45 minutes away from my gun store and I wanted to make nightly deposits, and it’s not so safe to drive that far at night with cash and checks to deposit.”

“The bank manager at Nicolet National Bank told me she had never heard of such a thing [a bank refusing to open an account for a gun dealer] and they’d be more than happy to have my business,” Schuetz said.

The United States Consumer Coalition has posted audio recordings made by Schuetz of his interaction with officials at Heritage Credit Union, and that audio supports Schuetz’s claims.

“Examiners from NCUA [the National Credit Union Administration] came in and looked at our accounts…looked at our books,” one official of Heritage Credit Union is heard telling Schuetz on one of the tapes. “Here’s some accounts that we feel that we’re going to regulate you on…and kinda put the screws to us as far as what we could and couldn’t do. The regulatory and compliance issues that we said earlier are true. We never used to have to do that stuff…and our hands are tied by it.”

Other audio recordings are equally chilling. “You wouldn’t believe the regulations we have and when they came in and nailed us on that [accounts] there were about a dozen of them crawling around the building,” a Heritage Credit Union official is heard on the tapes telling Schuetz.

Schuetz credits the United States Consumer Coalition for helping bring his story to the public’s attention.

“The U.S. Consumer Coalition has been leading the fight on Operation Choke Point and I’ve been happy to work with them,” Schuetz told Breitbart News.

Heritage Credit Union recently told Schuetz it may now allow him to have an account. “Now Heritage Credit says give them 90 days to fix this and I can open the account,” he explains.

But once burned, twice shy for Schuetz, who says he is hesitant to deal with Heritage Credit now.

Breitbart News has asked Heritage Credit Union for comment, but has not received a response yet.


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