A Gainesville gun manufacturer is at the center of the latest fight for the Second Amendment in the Georgia gubernatorial race.
Honor Defense was dropped without notice by its online payment processor, Stripe, in August 2017 because the San Francisco-based company no longer wanted to do business with the Gainesville manufacturer, according to Honor Defense CEO Gary Ramey.
Ramey was notified last year that his company violated Stripe’s terms of service, which bars businesses dealing in weapons and munitions from using the online payment company.
At the time, customers could order an Honor Defense pistol online and have it shipped to a nearby dealer with a federal firearms license, where the customer could pick up the firearm after passing a federal background check through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
But Ramey said it wasn’t just the sale of firearms that was an issue for Stripe. Ramey offered to stop selling his pistols online if the company would continue to handle sales of T-shirts and other merchandise from Honor Defense. Instead, Stripe opted out, leaving the Gainesville company without any way of processing sales online.
“It just makes it more difficult” to do business, Ramey told The Times on Monday, noting he can still accept checks from distributors and dealers.
Representatives of Stripe did not immediately return a request for comment.
After Stripe dropped him as a client, Ramey was alerted by another of his service providers that it was dropping his business because of his firearms trade.
Intuit Quickbooks, who provided phone payment services to Ramey, told him in March that the company was cutting ties with Honor Defense.
Now, after initially shrugging off the decision from Stripe, the Gainesville business owner is trying to rally a defense for his business and others like him.
“We refuse to be victimized by it. We’re going to press on and move on,” Ramey said, adding that he wanted to “pick up the banner a little bit and bring this to the forefront.”
Unlike the federal government, private companies are mostly free to do business how they want and with the people and companies they want. Ramey acknowledges that Stripe and Intuit are “perfectly within their rights to not do business with our industry” but said people should know about the situation at Honor Defense.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize what’s happening out there,” he said.
Georgia has a law prohibiting unfair treatment of the firearms industry, called the Georgia Firearms Industry Nondiscrimination Act. The law is enforced through a complaint system, but here too Ramey has hit a dead end.
He said on Monday that the Georgia Attorney General’s Office won’t take up his case as both Stripe and Intuit are licensed as “money transmitters” and not banks. The law was written to prevent banks and other financial institutions from blocking access of firearms businesses to the financial system.
Ramey called the decision “disappointing,” and he’s now asking for help from Georgia politicians, starting with Republican gubernatorial candidate Casey Cagle.
In a Monday announcement, Cagle agreed there’s little recourse for Honor Defense in state law. Instead, he said he would push for state policy that would prevent state government from doing business with companies that discriminate against the firearms industry. He also called for using the state’s investments “in many of these companies” to push for change in their policies and said the state should review any tax incentives received by companies discriminating against the industry.
"There’s a lot of talk in our nation and in our state about businesses choosing to discriminate based on their views, but there never seems to be much outrage if the discrimination is against a group with conservative views, such as those who believe in gun rights,” Cagle said in the announcement.
While Ramey went to Cagle for help, the candidate’s challenger, Brian Kemp, was first to stake out a position on the issue and has reached out to Rep. Rick Jasperse, the state lawmaker who sponsored the nondiscrimination act, to push for a change to the law.
“By circumventing the intent of HB 292, online credit card processors are making it difficult for Honor Defense to conduct business, grow, and prosper,” Kemp said in a Sunday announcement. “As governor, I'll work with the bill's co-sponsors to specifically prohibit this type of discrimination.”
This story will be updated.