I was thrilled to get the opportunity to interview Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of General Electric. We took a few minutes to discuss finance giant GE Capital’s recent decision to stop lending to gun shops.
HU: Mr. Immelt, GE Capital recently announced that it will no longer loan to gun shop owners. How did this come about?
Immelt: Well, we talked about and decided in the wake of recent tragedies, it was the right thing to do. It was, in my opinion, a courageous decision.
HU: Courageous? Why is that?
Immelt: Think about it: gun shop owners have guns. Lots of them. They are, by definition, dangerous.
HU: Dangerous, really?
Immelt: Sure, any one of them could go off at any moment. We were taking our lives in our hands doing business with these nutjobs.
HU: What drove this decision?
Immelt: Public pressure, pure and simple. The Spring Fundraising season just started in Greenwich and some of my executives were not getting invitations. Their wives were beside themselves. And there were some altercations at the Greenwich Country Day School pickup. It was almost too much for human beings to bear.
HU: Understandable. What percentage of GE Capital’s business do gun shops represent?
Immelt: I had my finance people work it out. It is 0.00000000001% of our business. Did you know most gun shops are really small? Heck, a 3,000 square foot gun shop is huge.
HU: 3,000 square feet? What about Cabelas, Bass Pro Shops, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart? They all sell firearms. In fact, Walmart is the largest retailer of guns and ammunition in the world.
Immelt: Of course we exempted retailers that sell goods other than guns. We have shareholders to answer to and bonuses to protect. Losing Walmart would hurt. A lot.
HU: So GE Capital’s stance against guns won’t affect your business in any way?
Immelt: Nope. Not at all. Best of all worlds.