Hogue Inc. recently posted on their social media channels about an interaction with Wells Fargo bank, that is a bit disturbing for the shooting sports industry. Hogue is a leading manufacturer of knives and tactical gear that has been in business for over 50 years in California. They were approached by a regional representative of Wells Fargo's commercial division about moving their online credit card processing over to Wells Fargo. They offered an attractive rate that would have saved the company money. Unfortunately, "We completed all the forms honestly and were denied because we, according to Wells Fargo, sell weapons online." said owner Aaron Hogue. "If we just sold knives, nobody would have batted an eye, but since we sell firearms accessories, it threw up a red flag for someone."
This is a disturbing development which appears to be the result of Operation Choke Point, which is an initiative of the United States Department of Justice that was announced in 2013, which is investigating banks in the United States and the business they do with payment processors, payday lenders, and other companies believed to be at higher risk for fraud and money laundering. It seems that the firearms industry may have a target on our back when it comes to commercial lending, at least from Wells Fargo. Since the issue with Hogue has come out publicly through a variety of articles and social media posts, Hogue has been approached by numerous other banks including Bank of America and Chase.
"Our business has been around for 50 years and we are proud that we operate a legitimate, legal business. I don't like feeling like I am doing something illegal." said Hogue. "I imagine that if a culinary cutlery company would have applied there wouldn't have been an issue. Nobody would have had a problem with a 10 inch butcher knife. But because we had firearms accessories on that application, they didn't want to touch us. Ask your bank directly about their issue with our industry. We did talk to Wells Fargo about these issues with the industry and the representative laughed it off thinking it wasn’t a big deal. So do your due diligence and be careful not to cut ties with your current providers if you are thinking about making a change."
As our industry continues to come under fire, these occurrences are only going to increase. We encourage you all to be aware of these issues and ask questions of your financial partners.Back to Recent News