The idea that a gun company would face retribution or punishment from a state government isn’t all that shocking. Heck, we’ve been watching a steady stream of gunmakers leave blue states like Massachusetts and New York thanks to laws that target the legal manufacturing of firearms. But Wyoming isn’t a blue state. In fact, it’s one of the most Second Amendment-friendly states around. So why is a state representative asking the Wyoming Attorney General to step in and sue the Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network over alleged discrimination against a gunmaker in the state?
Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams says she’s responding on behalf of Big Horn Armory, a firearms manufacturer in her district that wants to be a part of the ShopWyoming.com network of small businesses in the state. Unfortunately for the Cody-based gun company, they’ve been shut out of the online shopping portal.
The issue stems from the two large payment processors used by the site, Stripe and PayPal, as neither processor will handle sales of firearms and ammunition. But Big Horn Armory President Greg Buchel and Williams charge that the Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network itself — run by the University of Wyoming, the Wyoming Business Council and the U.S. Small Business Administration — is also discriminating against the firearm industry.
“The group that controls the Shop Wyoming website has free choice over what platform is used, they are culpable for that choice,” Williams wrote to the attorney general on Oct. 29, echoing an earlier email from Buchel. “The payment processor for Shop Wyoming and by association, the Wyoming Small Business Development Center and its directors employed by the University of Wyoming are in clear violation of W.S. 13-10-302(a).”
The law in question — which generally prevents financial institutions from discriminating against firearms-related businesses — was passed by the Wyoming Legislature and enthusiastically signed by Gov. Mark Gordon in early April.
It’s a good law, but it does have its limits. Namely, while the statute specifically targets financial institutions, it’s silent when it comes to those who use financial institutions that have anti-2A policies. And there’s some question about whether the law applies to payment processors at all.
Around 107 vendors were using the Shop Wyoming platform as of earlier this month, she said, with the site drawing nearly 65,000 pageviews through October. That’s translated to 63 orders and just less than $5,000 in sales. It’s an average of only about $50 per vendor, but Kline says the platform is still growing and SBDC is hoping for a boost this holiday season.
Buchel applied to be a seller back on Feb. 1, looking to offer Big Horn Armory’s “unique big bore lever guns and semi-auto rifles.” However, the request was soon rejected.
“Unfortunately, the payment [processor] for our site does not allow for sales of firearms or ammunition so we are unable to let you list those,” explained Shop Wyoming Project Manager Audrey Jansen. “However, if you would like to sell firearm accessories such as holsters, slings, or cuffs you may do that.”
Other retailers sell such accessories on the Shop Wyoming platform — including leatherwork made for holding bullets — and businesses can include a link back to their full site. However, Buchel said he’s not interested.
“We want to sell the guns themselves,” he said in an interview. “All of the accessories are ancillary to the whole operation — we sell guns, we build guns. That’s the deal.”
Basically Buchel (and several Republican lawmakers) believe that those responsible for setting up the ShopWyoming portal should either choose to work with a payment processor that doesn’t treat firearms like they’re illegal items or build out there own payment processing system that won’t discriminate against gun companies.
It remains to be seen what the state’s AG will do with this, but Buchel can always sue the Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network as a private citizen. Given the paltry sales figures generated by the website, however, that would cost the gunmaker far more than he could ever hope to recoup if his company ever is a part of the shopping portal.
Buchel’s legal battle may be a longshot, but don’t be surprised if the case prompts Wyoming lawmakers to take a second look at the pro-gun bill they approved earlier this year. It sounds like there’s some interest in amending the law to explicitly cover payment processors as well as banks themselves, which may be necessary if the state is truly interested in protecting the gun companies within its borders from the anti-gun attitudes of some of the biggest financial institutions around.