Coming a month after the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, thousands of students across the US staged massive walkouts last weekend to protest school shootings. The actions and critiques of these students have put a renewed focus on the multi-billion dollar gun industry, its bought-off politicians, and its powerful lobbyists like the NRA.
We’ve recently tried to highlight (here and here) the powerful role that big profiteers — banks, hedge funds, asset managers, top CEOs — play within the gun industry. These figures not only rake in millions and billions from gun manufacturing and sales, but they are often figures who, if pressured, could actually make decisions that could lead to change within the industry.
Big banks play a major role in the gun industry. In offering billions of dollars in credit lines to gun companies, they quite literally give them the life lines that allow them to stay in business. And, as Bloomberg reports, few banks are more complicit in the gun industry than Wells Fargo, who has been the largest backer, by far, of two of the biggest publicly traded gun companies in the US in recent years.
Since December 2012 — the time after the horrific Sandy Hook school shooting — Wells Fargo has made available $431.1 million in loans and bonds to American Outdoor Brands (the parent company of Smith & Wesson) and Vista Outdoor.
Even more, Wells Fargo has profited off of working with the NRA. Not only has the bank given the gun lobbying group a $28 million line of credit, but it also runs the NRA’s main bank accounts. In return, Well Fargo raked in nearly $10 million in fees from its business with the NRA in 2015 and 2016.
While Wells …read more