General Electric has decided it will no longer help America buy guns. Not that America needs much help.
The company's banking arm, GE Capital, had been partnering with firearms dealers since 2006. The agreement allows gun stores to offer customers financing through GE Capital for new firearms sales. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company stopped establishing new partnerships with stores in 2008, but continued offering financing under existing agreements. Early this year, gun stores began receiving letters indicating that those agreements were also being terminated.
GE is clear on its rationale:
"Industry changes, new legislation and tragic events" led GE Capital to reexamine its policies on financing firearms, spokesman Russell Wilkerson said.
GE has close ties to what happened in Newtown. The company is based in Fairfield, Connecticut, about 25 miles from where the Sandy Hook shootings took place. And there's another, weirder link: Peter Lanza, the father of the shooter, works for the company.
As the Journal notes, GE's retreat from helping people guns is unlikely to stem the flood of new firearms.
The company's exit has little overall impact in a U.S. gun market, where sales last year totaled $11.7 billion, according to IBIS World. While a typical handgun can cost more than $300, financing remains a marginal activity.
Through March of this year, the FBI has conducted 6.9 million background checks. More than ten percent of those were conducted in Kentucky — but that's because the state runs monthly checks on concealed weapons permit-holders.