Attacks on the firearms community have come from all sides in recent months. Financial institutions have refused service to gun companies, the governor of New York has weaponized his regulatory apparatus against the NRA, and banks are working to unilaterally ban lawful gun-related items.
Today two new stories emerged detailing how e-commerce and credit card processing companies have discriminated against gun-related manufacturers. Nevada-based Franklin Armory announced in a press release that Shopify, the host of their online store, suddenly changed their terms of service to disallow the sale of lawful, non-firearm items such as flash suppressors, threaded barrels, pistol grips, and even magazines larger than 10 rounds.
The new “Acceptable Use Policy” was “presented without warning,” according to the press release, forcing the firearms company to find a replacement before their one-year contract with Shopify expires.
We spoke with Franklin Armory President Jay Jacobson via email, and he explained that the anti-gun slant of the financial industry has compelled him and his team to do extra homework on their replacement options.
“We are attempting to evaluate not only the culture and policies of any alternative firm, but also any publicly known personal beliefs of the various CEOs,” Jacobson said. “It is a shame that we have to go to these great lengths, but too many liberal companies are plotting their virtue signaling by what may eventually be deemed tortious interference of business.”
Jacobson also noted the inconsistency of Shopify’s Founder and CEO, Tobi Lütke, who moved to ban sales of firearm-related items while continuing to sell other potentially harmful products.
“Mr. Lutke claimed that he wants to prohibit ‘items that can harm,’” Jacobson noted. “Yet, Shopify is very willing to promote the sale of marijuana in Canada, a Schedule I drug in the US. At least our products stem from a Constitutional right and are used by civilians and law enforcement to protect life and liberty.”
Franklin Armory isn’t the only company affected by Shopify’s new policy. According to the NRA-ILA, hundreds of firearms retailers use Shopify’s platform and are now facing a total loss of services. Cole Leleux, General Manager of Florida-based Spike’s Tactical, told the NRA-ILA that the tech company assured him the firearm-related nature of his products wouldn’t be an issue. Shopify only notified him of the policy change after Leleux signed the contract and paid $100,000 for the company’s services.
RMR Bullets, an Idaho-based reloading company, described a similar experience with a different company in their latest promotional email. A sudden terms-of-service change by credit card processing company FirstData forced the company to create a second new website six months after launching their first one.
“This has hurt us financially in ways that are hard to quantify,” said the company’s owner, Jake Wilcox. “We have hundreds of hours into training and construction of both websites plus the actual cost of two websites.”
Even though FirstData initially agreed never to terminate their relationship with RMR Bullets for firearm-related reasons, the credit card processing company sent Wilcox a termination letter earlier this year threatening to hold $40,000 worth of deposits for up to six months.
With the help of legal counsel, Wilcox negotiated a window for finding a new credit card processor, but their previous website provider could only function with FirstData. This forced RMR Bullets to fund an entirely new website development project, costing the company nearly $27,000 and forcing them to let products go out of stock.
“FirstData is a horrible company that is anti-gun and if you ever need a credit card processor do not give them your money,” Wilcox said in the email.
Even though RMR has found a new credit card processing company, there’s no way to ensure this won’t happen again.
“They can change policy at any time. And I don’t have anything in contact with them,” Wilcox told GunsAmerica. “These companies, they’re so big that all contracts with them are completely one-sided. You can’t really negotiate with them, small companies have no negotiating ability whatsoever.”
Franklin Armory has been targeted by financial institutions as well, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citigroup, First Data, Intuit, and Pay Pal, according to their latest press release.
“History is replete with examples of discriminatory practices employed against various societal segments,” Jacobson pointed out. “In almost every case, our nation has legislated equal protection for those segments to prevent unfair practices and discrimination. If Congress does not act soon to provide equal protection to all businesses, it is not too much of a leap to see how only approved businesses or people will be able to buy or sell in future financial markets.”