One of the ways that states have successfully fought back against big banks and other firms blacklisting gun industry businesses is with Firearms Industry Nondiscrimination (FIND) laws. If a lender — say, for instance, Bank of America, Citibank, or JP Morgan Chase — refuses to do business or calls the loan of a company that makes, distributes or sells guns because they’re involved in the firearms business, that lender is no longer eligible to do business with the state.
This was all a result of the Obama era Operation Choke Point effort to starve the gun industry of the services like banking, insurance, and credit card processing it needs to operate.
FIND laws have been passed by a number of states including Louisiana, Montana and Texas, punishing companies with discriminatory, anti-gun business practices. The laws hit the big banks especially hard, preventing them from underwriting big bond issues in FIND law states, cutting off the opportunity for them to earn fat underwriting fees.
One of the companies that says it’s been the target of exactly this kind of anti-gun discrimination is Ruger. According to an article at The Texan, Ruger was told by Wells Fargo that they would no longer be extending working capital credit to the firearm manufacturer despite being a highly profitable, publicly traded business with lots of cash and zero debt.
As Ruger describes their communication with the bank . . .
…our local contact at Wells Fargo informed our Chief Financial Officer that ‘Wells Fargo would not extend any new credit to us and therefore would not renew our credit line. (due to expire in September) due to “reputational and headline risk” related to our industry. ‘When pressed about these “concerns,” our Wells Fargo contact cited our manufacture of modern sporting rifles as a “red flag.” We were unsuccessful in engaging Wells Fargo management on the issue and were forced to search fora new bank.
The FIND law requires banks that wish to do business with the state of Texas to verify in writing that they are not in violation of the law’s requirements. Wells Fargo did that back in 2021. Once Ruger heard that and stopped laughing at what appears to be a bold-faced lie, they alerted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Paxton’s office, however, claims they were unable to determine that Wells Fargo is in violation of the FIND law. In other words, they’re letting the bank get away with it.
New: Firearm manufacturer Ruger sent a letter to #txlege members asserting that @WellsFargo is in violation of 2021’s #SB19, which prohibits state contracts with companies that “discriminate against the firearm or ammunition industries.”
— Brad Johnson (@bradj_TX) September 27, 2023
As a result of Paxton’s refusal to find Wells Fargo in violation of the law, Ruger sent a letter to Texas lawmakers last month, in effect saying WTF and requesting that the legislature “exercise its oversight authority and investigate whether the Attorney General’s office has appropriately applied” the FIND law. You can read the full letter here.
As Ruger’s VP and General Counsel Kevin Reid said in the letter,
Clearly, the goal of these efforts is to deprive us of the basic services necessary to run our (or any) business, thereby making it virtually impossible for us to conduct normal operations. This is precisely what the FIND Act is designed to prevent, and we applauded its passage.
With all this as background, Wells Fargo’s verification that it does not discriminate ‘against the firearm industry or a firearm trade association strains credulity. Moreover, the Attomey General’s failure to meaningfully enforce this law renders it toothless, strips Texans of the protections afforded by the law, and empowers financial institutions to discriminate against a constitutionally protected industry while benefiting financially from the taxpayers of Texas.
Well yeah. Again, you can read the full letter from Ruger here.
In the end, the big question here is, why has Texas’s Attorney General given Wells Fargo a free pass?