Is There a Price Tag on Our Right To Bare Arms?
By Chris Avena
On May 9th, I had the opportunity to speak to Kelly McMillan, the director of Operations of McMillan Firearms about his recent meeting with Bank of America in which they had told him that they no longer wanted to do business with McMillan Firearms because they are a firearms manufacturer. Should a financial institution have the right to terminate your account based solely on the industry that you choose to make a living in? Is there corporate profiling among our financial institutions?
Let’s see what Kelly McMillan has to say.
SMH: Kelly, you recently had a meeting with Bank of America
KM: That is correct. April 19th we had what was scheduled as just a standard annual account review meeting with a couple of representatives from the Bank of America. But it did surprise me when they showed up with the Sr. Vice President (Ray Fox) whom I have never met and didn’t know who he was but when you are handed a business card that says Sr. Vice President it just made me wonder what this meeting was really about. Had this been a normal account review, it would have been with the regular bankers that I deal with.
SMH: Did you make this meeting or did Bank of America make this meeting?
KM: They made the meeting. Just to give you a little background, I have been doing business with bank of America since 1998, that’s almost 14 years. In that time, we have never bounced a check, never missed a payment on our credit lines. We actually have two businesses with two different credit lines. At the time of this meeting our credit was less than 60 Percent of the maximum that is allowed on the credit lines. We have been a really good customer for them and we have had a significant amount of money that flowed through those accounts. We have also paid a significant amount of fees based on the services that they offered. So it really took me by surprise when Mr. Fox started to talk about our business and how it had changed. So I had interrupted him and said “so you are going to tell me that you did not want our business because we manufacture firearms and he said “that is correct”.
SMH: You had asked him if this decision was politically motivated.
KM: That is correct. He had made the comment that Bank of America had to be diligent in their assessment of their risk of doing business with a firearms manufacturer and how that played into their corporate reputation.
SMH: How did you interpret their Risk or their Reputational risk as they put it?
KM: I took Mr. Fox at his word that they just didn’t want to do business with me any more because I manufactured firearms which was not anything new to them. I had the account that we had opened for the rifle company under the name McMillan Firearms Manufacturering in 2007 so they have known (if they could read) they have known based on the name on the account. When they said that they had to assess the risk, that is when I asked him if this was a politically motivated decision and he said yes. From my stand point, I did not mean democrat or republican. I meant inter Bank of America political decision. I do not know what their policies are. I have never claimed to state what their policies are. Their big defense against this has been – well- that is not our policy. If you look- we have just done a big deal with the freedom group and we have other customers that manufacture or are in the manufacturing of firearms industry so this can not possibly be true and I do not know about any of that, I just know what happened.
SMH: Now that this has resonated with you for a week or so, do you feel that when they said political that it was B of A executives or government?
KM: I have been really firm about not speculating or giving my opinion about who or why because all of it would just be speculation and I do not want to give anybody the indication that I have any inside information. I do know that the State president for the Bank of America from Arizona came to see me and I did not buy his explanation of why they decided that they do not want my business. He claimed that it was just a sound financial decision based on my business but the fact is (as I said before) that I have been a good customer. We are in good shape financially. There really is no reason for him to have made that comment. Now what made me even less likely to believe Mr. Almonza who is the state president (of B of A) is that when we started the meeting, I asked him if he minded if I record the meeting and he said yes I do mind. I was kind of surprised and said why would you mind? So he told me because he wanted it to be a friendly conversation between he and I. From my perspective, anyone who does not want to be held accountable for what they say (and that would be the reason why they would not want to be recorded) can not necessarily be taken at face value. So I listened to what he said and then I evaluated (the conversation). Basically what I asked Mr. Almonza was that he had told me such a different story from the conversation that Mr. Fox and I discussed that it can not be a misunderstanding so one of you is lying. Who should I believe? He responded that he does not know what Mr. Fox and I discussed because he was not in the room. Keep in mind that Mr. Fox is Mr. Almonza’s subordinate and works directly under him. If it were me, I would have had a conversation with Mr. Fox prior to coming into the meeting so I had a clear understanding.
SMH: You have seen quite a bit of support from our community since this all began –
KM: It has been incredible to see how many people really cherish their second amendment rights and will take a stand to anyone who threatens to take that away from them and that is what this has been seen as which is an affront to our second amendment rights. There have been thousands of people that I have been in communication with through our Facebook page, emails and phone calls. They have been very supportive and I really appreciate them making the effort to make this fight a national fight because it is important to all of us.
SMH: It is no secret that our Second Amendment rights have been under fire (so to speak) from the Obama Administration. With that in mind, if this was a politically pressured decision from our administration - Have they put a price tag on our Constitutional Rights?
KM: It has been mentioned many times in the press and around the internet that they have not been successful in drafting legislation that will outright take our guns away from us so they are back dooring us by attempting to get ammunition registered and each round accountable to an individual, it is just a way to make it more difficult, more expensive and more likely that we will not go through the trouble that they are trying to create in order for us to keep our guns. If we can not get ammunition it doesn’t matter if we can get guns or not and I believe that is part of the process.
SMH: Do you feel that with the events that are happening if this is in fact a political move, can the industry indirectly be affected with the ancillary products to guns such as ammunition, clips, scopes etc. anything that is gun related. Can a bank pick or choose who they want to do business with?
KM: I do understand as a business owner that banks need to be able to choose who they do business with but I also feel that they should be accountable and there needs to be a sound business logic to that and if they say that there is too much risk in the firearms industry, meaning that they have a few companies (that they do business with) and they want to balance their portfolio so we want to pick and choose which companies we would like to keep. I would understand that if they would man up, say it and let the world know that this is their position on this. They shouldn’t say that it (the conversation) never happened or that it was not their policy and try to brush it under the rug. I have always maintained that they (B of A) have always looked at me as a small business with little consequence and probably if they had told me to go away, I would just go away but they have found out how significant, each individual, when it comes to second amendment rights can be and how we (as a group) have stood up for our constitutional rights.
SMH: I know of several individuals that I have spoken to that have closed their accounts at Bank of America and they have taken it a step further by canceling their Bass Pro credit card because it was issued through Bank of America. It seems that Bass Pro’s positions is that Bank of America said that this situation did not happen the way you are saying so they are taking the three monkey approach (See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Talk No Evil) . For a company like BassPro to change banks, it would be a logistical nightmare for them.
KM: I understand that but please keep in mind that through this whole thing, I have never once asked anyone to close their accounts, cut up their credit cards and change banks. I have never said that. That is an individual choice for each of us who are fighting this battle against the encroachment of our second amendment rights. Everyone has to choose for them selves how they are going to fight this. If changing banks or changing mortgage companies or changing credit cards is not something that would be easily done or to would have negative repercussions on the individual or their business – I do not expect them to do that because they need to take care of themselves.
As far as BassPro is concerned, what I am most disappointed about is that they have not contacted me. No one from BassPro has called me and said Lets hear your side of the story. I honestly think that they (BassPro) looked at this situation and said that it would be a nightmare if we had to stand on the side of the second amendment rights people. So we are just going to say that it is “he said, they said” and we can not take a position. Same as the NRA has done. The NRA has said that we do not have a position in this because it is his word against theirs. I understand that. That makes sense to me.
SMH: Do you feel it is a danger, if this is indeed the case, (and this is innuendo on both our parts) for government to put political pressure on a banking institution to stop financing gun manufacturing companies and possibly negating U.S. citizens of their second amendment rights.
KM: If in fact that is what’s happening, then I think that this is far more dangerous than anyone has given credit to it. Because if there is political pressure from the administration or anybody in the national political arena and the Bank of America or any other company is succumbing to that pressure, then we do not have much of a chance in our fight against them because that holds a different weight with people. The next time that someone becomes expendable as far as a company to Bank of America and political that is created that situation, you know that Bank of America will say (sure) whatever you want because of the position that they are in as far as being indebted to the administration for keeping them in business. Small business owners and even significant business owners really do not stand a chance to fight against that. Unless they are going to try to do something covertly and we just make sure that we let everyone know what is going on.
SMH: Do you mean something like the Fast and the Furious, selling guns to Mexico when they are supposed to be taken off the street altogether.
KM: Yes, that did hit real close to home. Of course we were not involved in that. They didn’t approach us during that time because of the type of firearms that we manufacture did not seem to fit what their profile was but even that is ridiculous. I have no idea what the fore thought to that was and whose decisions those were but it is crazy. We are law abiding citizens, we follow all of the ATF rules, we actually have to deal with the state department with every gun that we sell outside of this country and we Do that because we love this business and we want to stay in it so we follow the rules and we are law abiding company. Then when you hear about stuff like this that was created and perpetrated by the government I am wondering who is in control.
SMH: Have you found a Second Amendment Friendly Bank?
KM: We have actually started doing the interviewing process. We have three interviews over the next few days and I hope to have a choice by next week. One of the situations that we have found ourselves in is now that we have a responsibility to the thousands of people that are going to be looking to see who we choose, we must be diligent in picking a second amendment friendly bank, not just tolerant ( because there are tolerant banks out there). For example, there is one of the major banks that does not allow legal concealed carry in their bank or even in their drive through and obviously, I could not choose that bank because that is not really supporting our legal rights to own and carry guns. So we have to do a good job because a lot of people are watching.
SMH: So they will tolerate it, they will not allow it (guns) in their bank, but I am sure that their security guards are carrying guns.
KM: I am sure that they are.
SMH: I really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us today. I know how much everyone wants to be kept up to speed on the progress of this situation.
KM: I will keep in touch with everyone through Facebook and our website when we do choose a new bank. Our website is www.McMillanUSA.com and our website has a link to our Facebook page. There is also a lot of information on our facebook page with regards to other people who have had similar experiences and people who have told their stories with relation to what has happened with Bank of America so if anybody is interested, they can just find us on facebook (McMillan Group International).
SMH: I have actually read quite a few stories on your facebook page and it does not seem like this is an isolated incident that is happening with you.
KM: No, it doesn’t and one of the things that has come to light is that they have done the same thing with farmers. I have heard several stories about people who have had family farms for years and years and about two or three years ago Bank of America started telling them that they will not be renewing their line of credit, which farms have to have in order to function. They (farms) can not function with out loans because of how the industry is. So when they are told that they can not have a credit line, it is real devastating to them. Asking us (McMillan) to change banks from Bank of America, we have not slowed down our production at all. It has not been a financial burden for us. Bank of America did tell us that they would give us 6 months or until September 1st (to find a new bank) so it has not been a financial Hardship for us. But those in the farming community who have had this happen to them, it was a real traumatic experience and for some of them, they never survived.
SMH: So the banking industry is actually picking and choosing the industries that are to their advantage to deal with.
KM: Apparently & for whatever reason. Well, I appreciate you calling me and giving me the chance to talk a little bit about what happened. I hope that your viewers find it enlightening. We will just have to see how this all plays out.
SMH: What does McMillan have in store for us this year as far as new product lines?
KM: We actually débuted a couple of new products at the Shot Show this year. They will probably be out by late summer. The CS-5 is a terrific new covert short barreled mac-pack type gun for military and law enforcement. We also have a civilian version of it that has a 19 inch barrel so that you don’t have to get a tax stamp to own it.
SMH: I did not have the opportunity to stop by your booth at Shot this year but I will defently make it a point to come by and see you in January,
KM: Perfect- I look forward to it.
“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms”
~ Thomas Jefferson~