NEWS: Wells Fargo Continues To Support Gun Manufacturers, NRA

Despite other banks discontinuing support of gun manufactures, Wells Fargo & Co. is standing their ground and holding onto their ties to firearm companies and the National Rifle Association.

Last week, Wells Fargo issued a $40 million line of credit to gun manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Co., according to financial filings. That’s on top of the $431 million in debt that Wells Fargo has arranged for gunmakers since December 2012, when the Sandy Hook school shooting escalated the gun control debate. No other bank lent more to the industry over that time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The new debt, issued to one of the world’s largest publicly traded gunmakers, came as a big surprise to at least one group: nuns who had been talking to Wells Fargo about corporate-responsibility issues. On Sept. 26, the day before the debt agreement was issued, they had met with the bank’s business-standards employees in New York.

Wells Fargo has stated that it will continue to work with the Interfaith Center on business standards: “Wells Fargo wants schools and communities to be safe from gun violence, but changes to laws and regulations should be determined through a legislative process that gives the American public an opportunity to participate and not be arbitrarily set by a bank,” it said.

The religious community has been playing a shareholder-activist role on the gun issue. Earlier this year, groups introduced shareholder proposals at Sturm Ruger and American Outdoor Brands Corp., formerly Smith & Wesson, that require them to produce reports on gun safety. Both proposals passed.

The Interfaith Center is involved in the business-standards review with Wells Fargo. The bank said in its 2018 proxy statement it has agreed to conduct the review and publish the results on its website by year’s end.

Unlike Wells Fargo, a number of big banks, including Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., said they would reduce ties to gunmakers after the February mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school that left 17 dead. Wells Fargo also has a long relationship with the National Rifle Association, offering credit and operating its primary bank accounts.

It’s unknown how Sturm Ruger will use the line of credit. During an earnings call in February, President Christopher John Killoy said the company was closely watching Remington Outdoor Co., a firearms and ammunition juggernaut that went through bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

Originally reported by Bloomberg

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