Banks, corporations holding up gun makers in Second Amendment battle

A .9mm handgun produced by Honor Defense, a gunmaker in Gainesville, Ga., April 25, 2018 | Associated Press file photo by Lisa Marie Pane, St. George News

GAINESVILLE, GA. (AP) — With Gary Ramey’s fledgling gun-making business taking off in retail stores, he decided to start offering one of his handguns for sale on his website.

The owners and employees of Honor Defense, a gunmaker, pose in the company’s lobby. L-R: Pete Ramey, who works on the assembly line, Gary Ramey, the company’s owner, his wife and company business manager, Pam Ramey, and Richard Moore, who works on the assembly line, Gainesville, Ga., April 25, 2018 | Associated Press photo by Lisa Marie Pane, St. George News

That didn’t sit well with the company he used to process payments, and they informed him they were dropping his account. Another credit card processing firm told him the same thing: They wouldn’t do business with him.

The reason? His business of making firearms violates their policies.

In the wake of high-profile mass shootings, corporate America has been taking a stand against the firearms industry amid a lack of action by lawmakers on gun control. Payment processing firms are limiting transactions, Bank of America stopped providing financing to companies that make AR-style guns, and retailers like Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods imposed age restrictions on gun purchases.

The moves are lauded by gun-safety advocates but criticized by the gun industry that views them as a backhanded way of undermining the Second Amendment. Gun industry leaders see the backlash as a real threat to their industry and are coming to the conclusion that they need additional protections in Congress to prevent financial retaliation from banks.

“If a few banks say ‘No, we’re not going to give loans to gun dealers or gun manufacturers,’ all of a sudden the industry is threatened and the Second Amendment doesn’t mean much if there are no guns around,” said Michael Hammond, legal counsel for Gun Owners of America. “If you can’t make guns, if you can’t sell guns, the Second Amendment doesn’t mean much.”

The issue has already gotten the attention of the Republican who is chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho sent letters criticizing Bank of America and Citigroup, which decided to restrict sales of firearms by its business customers, over their new gun rules in the wake of the Florida high school shooting in February.

“We should all be concerned if banks like yours seek to replace legislators and policy makers and attempt to manage social policy by limiting access to credit,” Crapo wrote to Citigroup’s chief executive.

Honor Defense is a small operation with a handful of employees that include Ramey’s son and his wife who work out of a non-descript building in a Georgia office park north of Atlanta. In 2016, its first year, it sold 7,500 firearms. Its products — handcrafted 9mm handguns that come in a variety of colors — can now be found in more than 1,000 stores.

Literature is on display on the factory floor of Honor Defense, a gunmaker in Gainesville, Ga., April 25, 2018 | Associated Press photo by Lisa Marie Pane, St. George News

When Ramey noticed that neither Stripe nor Intuit would process payments through his site, he submitted a complaint with Georgia’s attorney general’s office, counting on help from a state law that prohibits discrimination by financial service firms against the gun industry. But the state rejected it, saying that credit card processing is not considered a financial service under state law.

He said he views the credit card issue as companies “infusing politics into business.”

“We’re just a small company trying to survive here,” Ramey said. “It’s hard enough competing with Smith & Wesson, Ruger and Sig Sauer.”

The financial industry actions came amid a broader pushback by corporate America in the aftermath of the Florida shooting. Delta and United Airlines stopped offering discounted fares to NRA members, as did the Hertz, Alamo and National rental car companies. First National Bank of Omaha, one of the nation’s largest privately held banks, decided not to renew a co-branded Visa credit card with the NRA.

Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods both decided they would no longer sell “assault weapons” or firearms to people under age 21. REI, an outdoor-gear shop that doesn’t sell firearms, joined in and decided it would stop selling such items as ski goggles, water bottles and bike helmets made by companies whose parent firm, Vista Outdoor, manufactures ammunition and AR-style long guns.

Gary Ramey, owner and founder of Honor Defense, a gunmaker, holds a part from one of the company’s firearms, Gainesville, Ga., April 25, 2018 | Associated Press photo by Lisa Marie Pane, St. George News

There’s been election-year response from some lawmakers, notably in Georgia where Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is running for governor, led a move in the Legislature to kill a tax break on jet fuel to punish Atlanta-based Delta over its NRA actions. The move cost the airline an estimated $40 million.

Gun-control advocates have applauded the efforts, saying it demonstrates responsible leadership at a time of paralysis in government. Experts say it’s a sign that the business world views wading into the gun debate as not at all risky — and, in fact, potentially beneficial to their brand.

“Companies by and large avoid these issues like the plague and they only get involved — whether they’re credit card companies or airlines — when they feel like doing nothing is as bad as doing something and they feel completely stuck,” said Timothy D. Lytton, professor at Georgia State University’s College of Law and author of “Suing the Gun Industry: A Battle at the Crossroads of Gun Control and Mass Torts.”

The gun industry acknowledges that there’s nothing requiring companies from doing business with gun manufacturers or dealers. Monthly reports from the federal government show background checks to purchase a firearm are up over last year so far, so the early actions apparently have not put a dent in sales.

Still, the industry believes it needs stronger laws against financial retaliation in the future.

“We may have to seek legislation to make sure it can’t be done and that you can’t discriminate against individuals from lawful exercise of a constitutional right,” said Larry Keane, senior vice president and legal counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which represents gunmakers. “Imagine if banks were to say you can’t purchase books or certain books aren’t acceptable. That would be problematic and I don’t think anyone would stand for that kind of activity by the banking industry.”

Written by  Lisa Marie Pane, Associated Press.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • Jmfixitman June 24, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    Wow! Post a list of the banks so we can boycott them.

  • IPFreely June 24, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    More liberal garbage..

  • SSTEED June 24, 2018 at 7:20 pm

    Ditch the federal reserve fiat and their stupid banks- go crypto.

  • Utahguns June 24, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    Well then, how come banks continue to do business with adult book stores and drug dealers accept EBT cards as payment for drugs?
    I don’t see any outrage there…. C’mon libbies where’s your voce about “equality for all”?
    BTW, Deep Roots Harvest in Mesquite is a cash only business….at least they have some foresight.

    • bikeandfish June 24, 2018 at 9:27 pm

      Do you mean dispensaries? I’ve never heard of credit cards taking money from known drug dealers, hence money laundering.

      Per porn… major businesses have boycotted sales of it for years. Walmart has leveraged their power against material containing anything “adult” for ages.

      Hobby Lobby refused to provide birth control to its employees. Etc. Etc. Etc.

      Both sides have used businesses this way. Neither side owns this type of corporate boycott.

      • Utahguns June 25, 2018 at 6:49 am

        As I sit here drinking my morning joe, your comment was intriguing and a good one…

        I was referring to the drug dealers that receive the complete EBT card from users or the remaining balance of what’s left on the EBT card as cash for the dealers “product”.
        Many stores in economically depressed sections of large cities where these Drug/EBT transactions occur, don’t ask the dealers who now have the transferred EBT cards for additional ID’s for store purchases because the small store owners are more interested in just moving inventory.

        DR Harvest won’t take credit cards from its customers because the banks won’t support credit/debit card transactions for establishments that provide recreational/medical marijuana products. That’s why they have an ATM in their lobby. (Gee, how do I know that ???)

        Walmart is a good example of “bullying” suppliers and customers through financial transactions and outrageous one-sided product supplier agreements (I have first-hand experience about that issue because my company refuses to have our product distributed by Walmart).

        This article states: “We may have to seek legislation to make sure that you can’t discriminate against individuals from lawful exercise of a constitutional right,” said Larry Keane, senior vice president and legal counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation”.

        OK so, I completely support that there should not be any discrimination against “protected classes” of people, but, with the depth and severity of the responsibilities that gun owners/suppliers/manufacturers must take, why aren’t gun owners a “protected class” as well?

        The Constitution, lays down our laws that provides protection to American citizens…..
        The First Amendment doesn’t “require” one to speak, it only protects you if you choose to speak.
        The Second Amendment doesn’t “require” everyone to own a gun, just those that make the decision to have one.

        • PatriotLiberal June 25, 2018 at 7:44 am

          If the gun maker mentioned in this article doesn’t like the decisions made by the bank, he can simply work with another one.

        • bikeandfish June 25, 2018 at 10:36 am

          Thanks for clarifying.

          My understanding is that protected classes exist to prevent discrimination based upon traits that we are born with or culturally raised in. I think the only comparable one is religion and I’m guessing that is where lawyers and legislators will focus their arguments.

          That said, I’m not sure how this will all play out between corporations as I’m not sure how discrimination works in a situation without it focused on a specific individual.

  • bikeandfish June 24, 2018 at 9:07 pm

    Interesting that the folks criticizing this business decision are by and large groups who support the CO Baker. The sharp edge cuts both ways.

    I’m largely against these types of boycotts. It just seems we get into tit-for-tat culture wars. Same goes for not serving Huckabee Sanders recently, the bar that refused service to the man wearing a MAGA hat. But its not new. We saw similar business decisions under Obama.

    But at the end of the day my opinion is less important than the fact that businesses have the legal right to use their money how they please, as long as its not to discriminate based on a protected class.

    • NotSoFast June 24, 2018 at 11:14 pm

      I think the courts should hear a few more discrimination cases concerning the subject.

      • bikeandfish June 25, 2018 at 11:14 am

        Not sure there is a discrimination case given they aren’t part of a protected class. Businesses can deny service based on just about anything as long as its not based on the classes defined by civil rights law.

  • Rafiki June 24, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    Some snowflakes above are feeling the heat of capitalism….

    A money loaning company sees possible future liability of financing a company that’s specializes in a product that is designed to end life. Decides to not finance that said company….this is called capitalism!

    Calling for more government regulation that would ‘protect’ these loaning companies, well that’s just not capitalism!!!

    Drip, Drip!

  • Not_So_Much June 25, 2018 at 6:46 am

    I support the rights of these business institutions. For myself, I won’t do my business with them. Now I look into ordering a firearm from Honor Defense. These things have a way of working out and thanks for calling the problem to our attention.

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