The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


Wells Fargo Resists Union Threats Aimed at Getting It to Drop Gun Manufacturer Clients

"I do not believe that the American public wants banks to decide which legal products consumers can and cannot buy."


The American Federation of Teachers is demanding that Wells Fargo drop its relationship with gun manufacturers (and with the NRA). To its credit, Wells Fargo isn't budging. As the response from the CEO said (alongside the usual, and understandable, we-hear-you-and-we-want-you-to-be-our-friends business-speak),

As I have publicly stated, I do not believe that the American public wants banks to decide which legal products consumers can and cannot buy.

I'm not a Wells Fargo customer, but I'm considering switching from U.S. Bank (for practical reasons, not political ones), and this raised Wells Fargo's standing in my mind. Indeed, I even called their customer service line to pass along my compliments.

The attempted demonization of the NRA and gun manufacturers also helps support, I think, many gun owners' worry that many gun control proponents' endgame isn't just "reasonable regulation" but outright bans.

Today, they might not have the political power to accomplish that on a national level, or in most states. But most successful ideological campaigns go in many steps. Diminish the power of the NRA now, and you might be able to get more gun restrictions soon. Get more gun restrictions then, and there may then be fewer gun owners year as a result (especially if you've made it harder for gun manufacturers to operate, and perhaps increased the cost of guns as a result). Diminish the number of gun owners, and you might further diminish the power of gun rights organizations, and then get more gun restrictions after that.

Of course, reasonable people may think that outright bans on guns are good—many of my friends think so, and while I disagree with them, it's a quesion that turns on empirical predictions and moral judgments that different people make differently. But whenever I hear people mocking those who worry about slippery slopes to broad gun bans, I find myself pretty skeptical.