Yesterday’s installation on the problems gun-related companies are having with banks generated a considerable amount of discussion inside the industry.
While several thought it “about time” that some of the banks were recognized for their quiet efforts to deny the firearms industry services, particularly those retail-banking services essential for operating stores - brick and mortar or online, others brought it to my attention that there were more than a few companies with equally unfriendly practices.
One custom rifle maker (again, I promised confidentiality due to concerns over banking reprisals) told me straight out that he had been denied a loan by his local bank. “Not because of my credit or financial history,” he said, “but solely because I’m in the gun business.”
It was also pointed out that Quickbooks, the accounting software company, will not provide payroll services to gun companies. Likewise, it was pointed out that SBIR and STTR grants exist for many categories of businesses, there’s no help available for gun companies that face financial hurdles in their work to develop military products.
“There is no question that the firearms business is being discriminated against,” one executive wrote, “is there some angle we could use to prove Operation Chokepoint was used to discriminate against firearms businesses so we could get some of those set aside opportunities?”
Have no idea about that, but the idea of using a decidedly discriminatory executive branch policy to get some of the existing assistance for business that otherwise have difficulties getting financing and financial services is decidedly one we’re looking into further. We’ll keep you posted.
“While some banks won’t have a public statement,” one exec wrote, “they flex their political muscle in other ways.”
“As an example, he wrote, “they will influence credit card processors to not provide services to our industry.”
No doubt about that, as some credit card processing operations are actually owned by the banks to whom they provide service.
Here’s where the story told to me turns darker. Many states, including Georgia, have laws to prevent banking discrimination.
But if they’re not enforced, they’re not laws, they’re only suggestions. That seems to have been the case for one gun maker. “We experienced discrimination from our credit card processor,” I was told, “When we pressed for an answer, they told is it was the bank pressuring them.”
At that point, the company took their problem to the Georgia Attorney General’s office. “As you might expect,” he related, “the Georgia Attorney General refused to pursue it on our behalf.”
The rational behind the refusal? They “were not sure they could win the case.”
They also refused to “officially” notify the credit card processor that a law to protect against this kind of discrimination was in place.
“It was an election year,” he said, “and promises of fixing the laws were made, but we all know how that goes.”
Unfortunately, many of us know exactly how that goes. Campaign promises are usually just that: promises.
How unfriendly is the banking industry toward the gun business? That’s hard to quantify, because no banker’s going to take a stand unless they’re absolutely painted into a corner.
Seems time for the firearms industry to start stirring the paint and voting with their wallets.
We’ll keep you posted.
— Jim Shepherd