BY LARRY PRATT | JUNE 13, 2012
How far up at Bank of America do they dislike guns?
In April of this year, Kelly McMillan learned that his companies had become too active making firearms. His companies are McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, McMillan Firearms Manufacturing and McMillan Group International.
On April 19, 2012 a Bank of America (BoA) Senior Vice President, Ray Fox, visited McMillan at his office. Fox had scheduled the meeting as an “account analysis” meeting in order to evaluate the two lines of credit McMillan’s companies have with BoA. Fox went on for about five minutes talking about how McMillan had changed in the last five years, becoming more of a firearms manufacturer than a supplier of accessories.
McMillan told him: “At this point I interrupted him and asked, ‘Can I possibly save you some time so that you don’t waste your breath? What you are going to tell me is that because we are in the firearms manufacturing business you no longer want my business?’”
“That is correct,” Fox replied.
“That is okay,” McMillan replied. “We will move our accounts as soon as possible. We can find a Second Amendment friendly bank that will be glad to have our business. You won’t mind if I tell the NRA, SCI and everyone I know that BoA is not firearms friendly?”
“You have to do what you must,” Fox said.
“So, you are telling me this is a politically motivated decision, is that right,” McMillan asked?
Fox confirmed that BoA’s decision was based on their dislike of firearms.
A few days later, on April 24, McMillan set up a meeting the BoA Arizona President, Benito C. Almanza. McMillan requested permission to record the meeting, but permission was declined. Almanza “wanted the conversation to be friendly.” McMillan suspects that Almanza did not want to be held accountable when telling him that McMillan was a credit risk, and that was why they wanted him to find another bank.
In fact, McMillan’s companies had never bounced a check or missed a payment. McMillan concluded that it was Fox, not Almanza, who had given the real reasons for dropping his business.
“I asked Almanza at the end of the meeting,” McMillan said, “Since your reasons and Mr. Fox’s reason for not wanting my business are so far apart that it couldn’t be a misunderstanding, who should I believe, because one of you is not telling the truth?”
Almanza replied: “I don’t know what Mr. Fox said because I wasn’t here.”
McMillan said this explanation stretches credulity. “Imagine this,” he says, “Mr. Fox has a meeting that stirs up so much trouble that his boss, the state president of BoA has to handle damage control, and he shows up in my office without having talked with Mr. Fox to find out what he had said. I don’t know if I can believe that one.”
Since the meeting, McMillan has seen several different BoA statements that indicate that they now view this as a misunderstanding. The latest one stated that they were negotiating with the client to clear up the misunderstanding.
“Let me say as strongly as I can, we are not negotiating with Bank of America. Our position has not changed.”
In fact, Gun Owners of America sent an inquiry to Bank of America to seek clarification on this issue. Our letter specifically asked BoA to NOT give us a “general policy statement” on the Second Amendment or a policy statement as to the bank's treatment of other gun-related organizations.
We specifically requested that they give us either a “confirmation or a denial” of what McMillan is specifically alleging – that is, that Bank of America dropped them because of their involvement in manufacturing firearms.
Sadly, BoA gave us a policy statement, answering the question they wanted to answer – not the question we asked. Anne Pace, a Senior Vice President at BoA, told us they “cannot comment” on the McMillan case – even though it’s become very public – but assured us that:
e do not have a policy that would deny banking services to entities because they are in the firearms industry. We have a number of banking relationships with retailers, manufacturers and other related companies. We also bank and finance many companies that directly support our military. We are proud to do so.
While we are certainly glad to hear this information, we specifically told BoA that this was precisely the kind of information that skirts the real answer we were seekin – namely, what is their side of the story in relation to McMillan? BoA refused to give us that answer.
While Pace’s letter to us says they “honor the rights and freedoms provided for in the U.S. Constitution … including the Second Amendment,” their alleged dealing with McMillan certainly tarnishes that claim.
To be sure, McMillan’s experience with BoA went to the top of their Arizona corporate structure. We don’t know for sure if other state branches of the bank have the same policy.
Let me urge any reader who has an account with BoA to inquire, perhaps referring to the dustup with McMillan, to see if BoA in another state would make a loan to the ABC (or fill in the name) Firearms Manufacturing Company.
Larry Pratt is the Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, a national gun lobby with over 300,000 members.