House Financial Services chairman: Displeased shareholders are 'free to leave' banks that cut off gunmakers

  • Shareholders upset with banks distancing themselves from financing gun manufacturers in response to deadly school shootings are "free to leave," says GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas.
  • "There are plenty of other banks out there who respect the Second Amendment, perhaps even more," the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee says.

Shareholders who are upset about banks distancing themselves from financing gun manufacturers in response to deadly school shootings are "free to leave" them, Rep. Jeb Hensarling said Tuesday.

The Texas Republican, who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said private institutions, including large national banks, should be able to have their own culture. However, he questioned the banks' motives besides recent school shootings.

Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, called out Citigroup and Bank of America late last month for cutting off gunmakers.

Citigroup said it will require its clients to sell guns only to customers who have passed a background check and restrict sales to those under the age of 21. BofA said it will stop lending to manufacturers of military-style firearms.

"Anybody who believes in the Second Amendment is free not to do business with Citi and free not to do business BofA," Hensarling, who is not seeking re-election, said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "There are plenty of other banks out there who respect the Second Amendment perhaps even more."

Hensarling spoke to CNBC four days after the high school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, which left 10 people are dead and 10 wounded. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the suspect had a shotgun and .38-caliber revolver, which appeared to be legally owned by the suspect's father.

Hensarling, who said he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, called for actions that would prohibit people with mental illness from gaining access to guns as well as people with criminal records, in line with what many of his Republican colleagues have said.

He also said states should examine laws that would hold parents accountable for failing to secure their firearms, but he did not provide a possible solution.

"Surely, as a society, we have to say enough's enough. But we have to do something that is comprehensive," said Hensarling. He insisted that law-abiding citizens should be able to keep guns. "With the exception of trampling on our Constitution, everything has to be on the table."

Sign Up for Our Newsletter Morning Squawk

CNBC's before the bell news roundup
Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about about our products and services.
By signing up for newsletters, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.