This week it was reported by major media outlets that GE Capital Retail Bank, the financial unit of General Electric Co., has quietly stopped offering its lending services to firearms retailers across the country, informing dealers by letter and e-mail it will no longer provide financing for customers purchasing guns using in-store credit programs.
The move was viewed by most observers as company posturing—grandstanding, if you will—as part of the current debate centered at statehouses and on Capitol Hill over the proposed implementation of restrictive firearms laws in the wake of recent tragic events. However, its true impact on firearms buyers and the gun industry is, well, trivial, at best.
According an April 24 report by The Wall Street Journal, GE Capital Retail Bank, based in Fairfield, CT, implemented the new policy "in light of industry changes, new legislation and tragic events that have caused widespread reexamination of policies on firearms."
However, the statement from GE Capital spokesman Russell Wilkerson also contained the ironic admission that his company's action was basically meaningless.
That's because gun sales are an "insignificant and immaterial" part of the company's business, Wilkerson acknowledged.
GE Capital Finance ceased providing consumer financing for new gun-shop customers in 2008, and recently extended the policy to existing customers. As a result, this week's decision affects fewer than 75 retailers nationwide.
Currently, just fewer than 60,000 retailers are licensed as federally licensed firearms dealers (FFLs) in the U.S., according to the latest BATFE statistics.
Therefore, the company's change of policy may affect less than .001 percent of all gun retailers in the country.
Further, in what may verify the new policy's stated intent as disingenuous, GE Capital's changes affect only FFL retailers that sell firearms exclusively, not general merchandise stores such as Walmart, Dick's Sporting Goods and others that sell high volumes of firearms, ammunition and shooting accessories.