By: Robert Davis
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), one of the nation’s largest teachers unions, urged Wells Fargo to cut ties with the National Rifle Association and all other gun clients with which the bank is affiliated.
“We are heartened by the many companies and corporate leaders that have taken steps to end this gun epidemic and promote gun safety measures,” AFT president Randi Weingarten wrote in a letter to Wells Fargo CEO, Timothy Sloan. “We applaud the firms that have reversed their policies around gun sales and military-style assault weapons since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that stole 17 lives.
“We hope Wells Fargo will consider such measures,” Weingarten continued. “We were alarmed to read in multiple media reports that your bank ‘has been the largest backer, by far, of two of the biggest publicly traded gun companies in the U.S.’ and has provided financial support for the National Rifle Association.”
Sloan didn’t budge, but responded to Weingarten in a letter, saying, “We believe that the best way to make progress on the complex issues concerning gun violence is through the political and legislative process in which all citizens have the opportunity to participate.”
Wells Fargo evaluates the bank’s relationships with gun manufacturers to ensure each company adheres to all state and federal laws before accepting them as customers.
“When dealing with the safety of our families, children, and other issues of this magnitude, there are no easy or satisfying solutions,” Sloan wrote. “In fact, 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.”
Wells Fargo helped 1,600 AFT families with home financing in 2017. The bank also raised its Neighborhood LIFT program (down payment assistance) allowable median income to 100 percent for teachers as a way to express gratitude for what they do their communities.
AFT claimed in its letter that NRA leadership “has launched shameful personal attacks on educators and the student survivors of mass shootings.” The union also requested information on the bank’s financial dealings with the NRA, specifically about lines of credit and fees collected from business transactions.
“We’re issuing Wells Fargo an ultimatum,” Weingarten said in a statement. “They can have a mortgage market that includes America’s teachers, or they can continue to do business with the NRA and gun manufacturers. They can’t do both.”
Robert Davis is a journalist from Colorado. He covers defensive gun use and Second Amendment litigation for Gunpowder Magazine. Contact him at RobertDavis0414@gmail.com.