GunsBank withheld $1.6 million from top bump stock maker after Las Vegas shooting

By Ann Givens

Published 18 June 2018

In a lawsuit, Slide Fire Solutions, the inventor and manufacturer of the bump stock, accuses Merrick Bank of holding more than $1.6 million of the company’s money “hostage.” The financial institution says it had to hedge its risk in light of threats to Slide Fire’s business arising from the Las Vegas shooting.

The inventor and manufacturer of the bump stock is suing the bank that once processed its online sales, claiming the financial institution is holding a sizable sum of its money “hostage” as a result of the Las Vegas massacre. Experts say the dispute could have implications for the way financial firms deal with clients from the firearms industry.

In a federal lawsuit filed in May, Slide Fire Solutions alleges that Utah-based Merrick Bank improperly withheld more than $1.6 million in a reserve fund following the mass shooting. Merrick Bank retained the money after the two companies dissolved their business relationship in December 2017.

In the suit, Slide Fire accuses Merrick Bank of attempting to “shield themselves from tangential, hypothetical, unviable, and currently non-existent liability in personal injury lawsuits.”

The bank argues that threats to Slide Fire’s business arising from the Las Vegas shooting justifies its decision to withhold the funds.

Experts say the suit may be the latest sign that financial institutions are deciding that dealing with the firearms industry is more trouble than it’s worth — either in terms of liability, or bad press.

“This sends a message that [working with gunmakers] is an expensive and nasty business for banks to be in,” Heidi Li Feldman, a tort law expert and legal theorist at Georgetown University Law School, told The Trace. “It’s a good example of a regulated market doing its thing.”

The bump stock became part of the American vernacular last October when a gunman used rifles equipped with the devices to carry out the deadliest mass shooting in American history. Bump stocks enable semiautomatic weapons to mimic fully automatic gunfire, unloading entire ammunition magazines in seconds. As The Trace has reported, the devices are categorized as gun accessories under federal law, and, before the shooting, were subject to few regulations.