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Forty years ago, my father, Neal Knox, was one of the first to shoot and write about an innovative new concept in precision rifle technology: fiberglass stocks. Among the first manufacturers in the new field was Gale McMillan who founded McMillan Fiberglass Stocks. It didn’t take long for fiberglass stocks to become the standard for serious precision rifle competitors and then gain acceptance in military and hunting applications. From fiberglass stocks, the McMillans moved into making complete rifles, ammunition and other firearm-related accessories and services. Now Gale McMillan’s son Kelly, who has been involved in the family businesses from the beginning, has introduced a new firearm-related service from the McMillan family: credit card processing.
You might not think of credit card processing as a firearm-related business, but Kelly McMillan does because he has been the victim of anti-gun bias in the banking industry – and he is not the only one. He knows that other firearm-related businesses are feeling the squeeze of the bankers’ bias every day. Just like any other business, companies in the gun industry depend on financial services to make their businesses work. The bias against guns among financial service companies has begun to cross the line from a nuisance to an actual impediment to doing business.
Last year a manager with Bank of America shut down an established business relationship with the McMillan group just because the McMillans were in the firearm industry. Bank of America claims that they do not discriminate against firearm businesses, but McMillan isn’t the first to report such an incident. Similar rejections have hit the industry from a variety of other banks including Chase and Wells Fargo. In almost all of those cases, the corporate bank offices claim that they have no policy against firearm-related businesses, but still businesses in the firearm industry keep finding it more and more difficult to build reliable banking relationships.
While most of the banks accused of bias insist that it’s all a mistake, other financial services providers are not shy about their dislike for the industry. Shortly after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, GE Capital announced that it would no longer make commercial loans to firearm-related businesses. It’s worth noting that GE has been a major defense contractor and, until a few years ago, manufactured the Minigun and Vulcan Cannon electric Gatling guns, which fire at a rate of 6,000 rounds per minute. It is also worth noting that the absentee father of the deranged little punk who massacred those children at Sandy Hook is an executive with GE Capital.
More pressing than the bias in banking and commercial loans, however, are the challenges retailers face with credit card processing. Organizations like Intuit, Square and Pay Anywhere are flatly refusing to process any firearm-related transactions through their mobile card-reader devices for smartphones. More and more these companies and others are limiting, restricting and canceling accounts for firearm businesses – especially for online transactions. Some people have even reported problems with online purchases of gun magazines – the kind you read, not the kind that hold ammunition.
We have long urged industry leaders like the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Rifle Association, Sturm Ruger, Smith & Wesson, and retailers like Cabella’s and Gander Mountain to use their leverage and influence to either broker deals with existing institutions, or create new institutions to guarantee that businesses in the firearms industry always have the services they need at reasonable rates.
NRA has a membership-based “Business Alliance” that offers some services, including credit card processing, through third-party vendors, but it looks like more of a revenue generator for NRA than a service for the industry. Cabella’s appears to own the bank that provides credit cards for their customers, but they seem content to keep the operation exclusively in-house.
Several credit card processing companies have cropped up that are specifically offering services to our industry, and some have been endorsed by prominent organizations and industry leaders, but, until now, none had the full involvement and backing of a trusted company with a long history in the firearm industry. McMillan Merchant Solutions changes that. With over 40 years of innovation and commitment to the firearm industry, McMillan is a name gun owners and retailers know and trust.
The company is offering full-service credit card processing, integration with virtually any online shopping cart system, portable card reader systems and full integration with popular financial management software like Quicken and QuickBooks. They have also developed a service specifically for handling private firearm transactions online called Pistol Pay, and they’re donating a percentage of their profits to Second Amendment rights organizations.
Just as my father was proud to be one of the first to receive a fiberglass stock from Gale McMillan and help introduce McMillan to the shooting world, I am looking forward to being one of the first to adopt McMillan Merchant Solutions to handle credit card processing for The Firearms Coalition, the organization my father founded and which I operate.
We will not allow the bias and prejudices of a few confused bankers to undermine our industry and our rights. If you’re a gun owner or involved in the firearms industry, we urge you to look at the banks and financial services companies you’re currently doing business with and make sure you’re supporting someone who supports your values, your business and your rights.