Paypal, Stripe and Square Sued by Firearms and Ammunition Store

 

Blair Gladwin owns Gladwin Guns and Ammo in Merced, California. He claims that Paypal, Stripe and Square online payment processing companies are violating the California law known as the Unruh Civil Rights Act and Gladwin has filed three class action lawsuits, one against each of the businesses.

If you are in the business or even the hobby of selling guns and ammo you are probably very aware of the fact that many traditional financial enterprises such as credit card processors and banking institutions do not want to do business with firearms, ammunition, and accessory manufacturers and retailers. The largest online payment processors, PayPal, Stripe and Square are explicit that they do not want to transfer money or process payments related to weapons and ammunition. These terms of service have resulted in the almost ubiquitous “discreet PayPal payment” seen in online advertisements for guns and gun stuff in private party transactions.

Gladwin and his lawyer, William McGrane claim that the practice of compelling a merchant to reveal the nature of their business and the subsequent refusal of that merchants business are illegal under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, specifically  Sections 51, 52(a) and 52(c).

McGrane PC is a boutique litigation law firm is located in San Francisco, California. You can learn more about the ongoing lawsuits on the Gladwin Guns and Ammo Facebook page.



Scott is a firearms enthusiast and gun hobbyist whose primary interest is the practical application of gun ownership. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he hosts and blogs for The Firearms Podcast, a podcast and blog about gun stuff by gun people. Scott is a 20-year veteran of the USAF and been a member of his base, state and the All Guard marksmanship teams. He can be reached via email at scott@thefirearmspodcast.com


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  • Spencerhut

    Good for them. I really hope they win million’s

    • Hinermad

      Generally the only people who hit paydirt in a class action lawsuit are the lawyers, but if it gets these companies to play right I’d say the lawyers earned it.

      • Cymond

        Precisely. The goal of a lawsuit like this isn’t to get paid, it’s to force a change in behavior.

  • Raptor Fred

    YEAAAAAA THIS IS GREAT!!!!

  • USMC03Vet

    love it.

    In an age where companies can get shut down for refusing service based upon perceived sexual preference civil rights, how can companies do the same without punishment for legitimate civil rights use as defined in the US Constitution.

    I wish them all the best.

    • wetcorps

      Guns are a sexual preference 🙂

      • Patriot Gunner

        Our ammosexual brothers and sisters behind enemy lines have had their rights violated for to long! No more!

        • uisconfruzed

          Bwaaahaha! That’s great, “ammosexual”.

          • Colonel K

            I think it was created by gun haters and meant to be a derisive term, comparing pro-second amendment people with those who have psycho-sexual issues. Like Yankee Doodle and ditto-head, if it is embraced by the opposition, it loses any insulting meaning it had.

      • mazkact

        I identify as .50 BMG.

    • MclarenF1Forever

      Exactly. If a baker can be forced to decorate a cake against their artistic and personal vision, then certainly a merchant payment company can be compelled to serve legal businesses regardless of what industry they are in.

      • Oregon state law makes it perfectly clear that “artistic and personal vision” are not an acceptable excuse for specifically denying service solely because of customers’ sexual orientation; the same law would protect the bakers if a business owned by actual Christians tried to deny them service for being Satan worshippers.

        • Lyman Hall

          Are you a lawyer? Are you licensed to practice law in Oregon?
          Why should I listen to your advice, then?

          • Well, I’m not actually offering any advice here– legal or otherwise– but I can read the English language, and do know how to use something called “Google”. I can also search Snopes.com for “Bitter Baker Battle”; the relevant statute is referenced in the second paragraph in a PDF link to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruling on the matter.

          • RazorHawk

            Snopes is about as honest as Hillary. A real gun owner should know better than to rely on liberal websites.

          • Wow, that would totally be a kickin’ sickburn if Snopes were the only website on the internet that reported on the issue.

            …And, y’know, if it weren’t for the whole “PDF link to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruling on the matter” thing.

          • RazorHawk

            You should know better than than to trust a govt agency that was created to push socialist agendas, the rainbow jihad being one of those agendas, your right to bear arms is next on their hit list.

          • iksnilol

            Ah, a source is not reliable if they aren’t biased towards your view.

          • RazorHawk

            If a source is biased against real rights, and favors fake rights promoted by fake men and fake women who care more about protecting violent criminals, than innocent people who are merely exercising their God given rights , then that source cannot be trusted.

          • iksnilol

            What are real men and women?

          • RazorHawk

            You should know, you are one, aren’t you ?!?!

          • iksnilol

            Well, I’d say someone is a real human if they’re coded from the human genome. But that’s obviously a too broad definition for you.

          • uisconfruzed

            Google ‘pride march’, that’s a definition of NOT.

          • iksnilol

            Looks like people having a good time. I see no issue there.

        • MclarenF1Forever

          That’s great! Taken to the logical conclusion, an Imam cannot deny a gay couple’s “request” that he officate their wedding. Nor can a Mosque deny a gay couple’s use of their private property for their wedding. When you appropriate by force someone else’s work or property, guess what you have? Slavery.

          • Slavery was done away with by the 14th Amendment, but the more relevant statute to your hyperbolic hypothetical is the 1st Amendment, which guarantees freedom of religion and thereby protects houses of worship from being forced to conduct any ceremonies which run counter to their beliefs.

            It’s U.S. Independence Day, you should really take the opportunity to read up on the Constitution.

          • RazorHawk

            Slavery is returning thanks to these satanic rainbow cultists , but only Christians can become slaves, the rainbow cultists and jihadis are still free to deny service to Christians and believers in Real Marriage and real rights.

          • You should have brought some dressing for that word salad.

          • MclarenF1Forever

            A place of religious worship maybe protected, but it is not implausible that the 9th circuit would rule that it is not, given their history of finding a way to a ruling they want.

            Just to be clear, you do agree that an Imam, or any other person that can officiate a wedding, at non-religious locations/buildings, can be forced to do so even if such a wedding is of a union that their religion does not approve/recognize, is that corrrect?

            I also find it interesting you treat the baker’s in OR as if they flat out refused to serve the so-called “victims”. The “victims” were not flat out refused service, the bakers simply did not want to decorate a wedding cake. The “victims” had bought other products before without issue. If the state can force someone into performing labor that not only they do not want to do, but against their religious belief, is that not a form of slavery?

  • int19h

    I don’t see how discrimination by private companies could possibly have any relevance whatsoever to the Second Amendment.

    • Tom

      Look up the act, section 52c. “Whenever there is reasonable cause to
      believe that any person or group of persons is engaged in conduct of
      resistance to the full enjoyment of any of the rights described in this
      section, and that conduct is of that nature and is intended to deny the
      full exercise of those rights” RKBA is one of the enumerated rights that is being denied.

      • Gun Fu Guru

        How is the right to keep and bear arms “being denied” here?

        • Lee Enfield

          Tell that to the photographer, florist, and photographers being sued out of business for denying to bake a cake when there are 50 different places to buy a cake within a few mile radius.

          • Gun Fu Guru

            Are you arguing that this case has nothing to do with the merits at hand but rather at retaliation?

          • Lee Enfield

            Has merit with a big dollop of sweet retaliation sitting on top. Winning!

          • Gun Fu Guru

            Ok. What’s the merit then?

          • Marcus D.

            See above. None. The statute does not apply.

          • Marcus D.

            I should add that it appears there is a wrong but no legal remedy. The lawsuit is creatively seeking to establish one

          • Marcus D.

            Not retaliation, simply seeking a remedy for small businesses severely impacted by their inability to obtain credit and debit services, services that are critical to their commercial success.

          • Marcus D.

            Thus businesses are discriminating against customers who are gay. Homosexuals (aka sexual orientation) are a protected class under federal and state civil rights laws. Thus, a business, i.e. a public accommodation, is prohibited from discriminating against gays when it comes to selling their wares and services. The fact that there are other businesses that do not discriminate is irrelevant and does not excuse a violation of the law.

          • commonman

            I am not biased and don’t care what anyone else does sexually speaking, but how is it that gay folks have fought long and hard to gain equality, and as you say, have now been deemed a “Protected Class”? Regarding PayPal, myself and most friends I know who have firearms have quit using them and/or shopping at Target and any other anti gunners a long time ago. I’m a wondering if Brownells and Midway are involved in supporting Mr. Gladwin..

          • Marcus D.

            Because the legislature (and the congress) recognized “a history of invidious discrimination” against gays, members of some religious groups, women, foreigners, the elderly, etc.

          • RazorHawk

            Same way they recognized slavery to be legal centuries ago, same goes for the judiciary.

            Discrimination against Christians and real marriage defenders, under the guise of tolerance, is the new slavery. Christians & social conservatives, especially those who have businesses, are the new black slaves.

            And BTW, discrimination against the rainbow cultists is a myth. People don’t go around asking you if you are guilty of violating Leviticus 18, it is the rainbow cultists themselves who voluntarily tell people their sins.

            These equality obsessed rainbow jihadis don’t want tolerance, they want acceptance, and they will never have it. We will never accept them. All the totalitarianism and tyranny they can muster will never change that.

          • iksnilol

            Oh yeah, the “rainbow cultists” take bakers from Europe, force them over to the US to bake cakes under a whip for good old immoral, homosexualizing ‘Massa.

            Real slavery and tyranny indeed.

          • RazorHawk

            Rainbow cultists in Europe and Canada already kidnap children from Christian parents, if the Christian parents refuse to follow & promote the state mandated rainbow jihad brainwashing & re-education.

            But of course people, like you say its OK, as long as the govt is the one doing the kidnapping.

          • iksnilol

            Now that’s quite a claim. Any proof?

          • MichaelZWilliamson

            As far as Leviticus, how much pork do you eat, Razor? Do you round off the points of your beard?

          • MichaelZWilliamson

            I’m sorry to hear your marriage is going to be annulled by force of law, and that you’re going to be forced to marry a man. That’s what you mean when you said you were being enslaved, right?

          • RazorHawk

            Sexual deviance is not a right, it is a wrong. No man made law can change that, no judge or jury can change that. You cannot compare a real right, like the right to bear arms to something immoral, like the rainbow cultists. In fact you seem to prefer protecting the rainbow cultists and their disgusting sins rather than protect real rights like the right to best arms.

          • iksnilol

            But your holy books are also… *gasp* man made laws.

          • RazorHawk

            Biblical Laws come from God, the same God who gave us the right to life, liberty, property and the right to bear arms. they are not man made. The govt cannot create rights from thin air.

          • iksnilol

            But you can create a god out of thin air to create rights for you?

          • MichaelZWilliamson

            Funny. My God says exactly the opposite of what yours says. Obviously, yours is wrong.

      • Marcus D.

        It doesn’t work that way–the Act applies to the rights “described in this section.” For that, go to California Civil Code section 51(b) and (e). Subdvision (b) states:
        (b) All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no
        matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin,
        disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual
        orientation,citizenship, primary language, or immigration status are
        entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities,
        privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind
        whatsoever.

        The Act thus protects against discrimination in public accommodations against persons in the described groups. I do not see “gun stores” as a protected group. That is the simple version. The more complicated one comes to the same conclusion. Nor for that matter is the Second Amendment one of the enumerated rights in the section. Finally, private businesses are not subject to the Second amendment, which applies only to governmental interference. The Unruh claim is a total loser.

        • Norm Glitz

          A fairly typical misinterpretation. Sub b’s first two words are “All persons …”. It then goes on to give examples.

          The “all persons” are the ones “entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.” Not just the given examples to the exclusion of all others.

          • Marcus D.

            Care to cite some authority for your nonsense? I am too busy right now to look.
            Just because the act applies to “all persons” ignores the rest of the provision and the matters which it protects. The “list”, as you call it, is a complete list of the protected characteristics of persons, not businesses, not a list of “examples” that allow for broader application. The Second Amendment is not one of the protected characteristics, nor are businesses within the protected class; the Second Amendment is a guarantee against governmental interference, not private interference, and it is inapplicable between individuals. A business that bans all guns is not “discriminating” within the scope of the Unruh Act.
            Here, the business is not being “discriminated against” because of its sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation,citizenship, primary language, or immigration status, i.e., a characteristic of its person. It is being discriminated against because it sells guns, i.e., the nature of its business, and the Unruh Act no more requires PayPal to do business with it than with a brothel.

  • The Mystic Seer

    Hope they all go belly up.

  • Gun Fu Guru

    The Unruh Act claim is dubious at best.
    The Second Amendment claim is absolutely ludicrous.

    I predict a quick trial loss with a lot of fees.

    • Marcus D.

      Agreed on both grounds. The Second applies to governments, not businesses, so it is inapplicable on its face. And while the Unruh Act does apply to businesses, it protects against discrimination in public accommodations against specified groups, among which are not other businesses or in particular gun stores.

  • Gun Fu Guru

    I’m surprised that the one lawsuit the folks at TFB picked up was this. I thought it would be Florida’s “stand your ground law” being found unconstitutional.

    https://www . wsj . com/articles/florida-judge-rules-stand-your-ground-law-is-unconstitutional-1499113172

    • Gun Fu Guru

      For a PDF of the order: http://www . miamiherald . com/latest-news/article159401234.ece/binary/HirschRuling

    • Marcus D.

      Well, it is odd that the State has changed the law in the manner that it did. typically, unless a presumption applies, it is the defendant’s burden to prove the affirmative defense of self defense. In fact, that is why they are called affirmative defenses–because it is the defendant’s affirmative obligation to prove the additional facts of the defense, not the State’s burden to prove a negative. His methodology is perhaps questionable, but I don’t know what the Florida law is on the subject. Here in California, the Legislature passes procedural laws all the time.

      • Gun Fu Guru

        I don’t practice in Florida, and I am not familiar with the many nuances of that state’s law. That being said, I think the judge made a flawed argument.

        He was saying that the the historical precedent in common law is the duty to retreat with the subject mounting an affirmative defense if the case ever goes to trial (which is historically true). He further states that the newish “stand your ground” law’s provision [n1] that orders a hearing to determine if there is clear and convincing evidence that a use of force was self-defense upends the established judicial rules. Under the state’s constitution, the supreme court has the authority to “adopt rules for the practice and procedure in all courts…” [n2]. He then proceeds to say that the state’s “judicially-propounded procedural ‘rule’ [can either take] the form of a [formal] rule…or…in the form of decisional law.”

        What he unfortunately lacks in his order is an important part of the state constitution: “[r]ules of court may be repealed by general law enacted by two-thirds vote of the membership of each house of the legislature” [n2]. The law passed in 2005 with votes of 39–0 in the Senate and 94–20 in the House [n3].

        The interesting legal question is whether the judge was correct about “decisional law” being considered a rule. If the appellate court agrees with him on that point, then I see no opinion but to overturn his order per curiam.

        n1. Codified in § 776.032 of Title XLVI.
        n2. Art. V §2(a) of the Florida Constitution.
        n3. Zachary L. Weaver, Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law: The Actual Effects and the Need for Clarification, 63 U. Miami L. Rev. 395 (2008) at footnote 8.

        • Marcus D.

          Georgie was charged not because of the law, but in spite of it. He was charged because of political pressure due to all of the protests and mass media coverage, by a prosecutor who was trying to make a name for herself and assure her re-election. It was a pretty sad state of affairs. Moreover, George did not raise a “stand your ground” defense, and there was no pre-trial hearing on the issue. Instead he raised a straight self-defense claim. Not that the press and the BLT movement cares about such “niceties.”

          In California, procedural rules may be enacted by statue, by court rule, or by decisional law. Statutes are controlling, and rules may not exceed the scope or requirements of a statute. We don’t have to worry about majorities.

          On a separate point, here self-defense is an affirmative defense, since the elements of self-defense are not any of the elements necessary to prove a crime. There is one major exception: in the case of a home invasion, it is presumed that the invader intends to cause great bodily injury or harm, unless the intruder is actually a resident or close family member. Thus, in this circumstance, the prosecution must prove that the defendant was not acting in self defense. I know of only one case where the prosecutor (stupidly and politically) attempted to do so. the Marin County DA is very anti-gun, so he sought to make an example of an elderly retired doctor who was followed into his own garage by a (somewhat younger) road rager. The doctor, being attacked, fetched his revolver and shot and killed the intruder. It took years for him to finally clear his name at trial. It was appalling what the DA did, a real travesty of justice.

          • Gun Fu Guru

            Ah, that’s right! I was in Little Havana with my wife’s family when I remember the news breaking that O’Mara announced he was going to pursue the SYG defense. I don’t know I forgot about the flip-flop. Thank you for correcting me. Georgie though is still relevant because he would actually benefit from this law since the material facts are unprovable one way or the other. (I’m hoping for the day when we can stop calling a deadlocked jury to be a mistrial rather than arriving at a verdict of not proven.)

            I don’t understand Florida’s separation of powers. The supreme court could pass a highly partisan rule knowing that 2/3rds of the legislature isn’t going to repeal it.

            You say you are from Cali, and you sound like a lawyer. I saw a map earlier when I googled “stand your ground.” It said that Cali was a SYG state in practice. Is that true?

          • Marcus D.

            Georgie was found innocent by reason of acting in lawful self defense.

            California is SYG “in practice” since it does not imposea requirement of retreat prior to the use of deadly force, but there is no specific statute. Other states (I don’t know which ones) do impose a duty of retreat, even in the home, if it is reasonably possible to do so.
            Further, as I explained elsewhere, there is a California jury instruction that a threat of great bodily injury or death is presumed from persons breaking an entering a residence, imposing upon the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self defense. The presumption does not apply outside the home.

  • Wild Bill

    This gunshop is in California and this lawsuit is going to benefit ALL gun owners. Remember that and the fact there are a lot of gun owners in the state that did not elect the idiots that are imposing draconian gun laws in that state.

  • If I were a lawyer I certainly wouldn’t try to be one in a hellhole of jurisprudence like California, but the relevant sections of the Unruh Civil Rights Act don’t appear to apply in any possible way to firearm-related business; these suits seem intended more to obtain Justice For All by shining a glaring public spotlight on the ignorant and arbitrary service denial policies of Paypal et al. rather than a direct attempt at remuneration for the parties filing the suit. I would say the goal here isn’t to make bank, but to use national headlines to publicly shame the offending companies into changing those policies.

  • catfish252

    I just got an email this morning from Bud’s Gun Shop announcing they are now taking PayPal, so I don’t understand why one and not the others, maybe size(cash sales) has something to do with it. Seems strange though — one and not the other.

    • Marcus D.

      Sometimes it is a regional decision, sometimes a national one. And maybe someone at PayPal recognized that Bud’s does a huge volume of business and made an exception. sometimes money is more important than principle.

    • Grey Beard

      I would opine Marcus is correct and that it is the old money talks and BS walks theory. I would hate to think that PayPal was doing it out of the kindness of their heart. Sarc button disengaged.

    • mig1nc

      Really? I just checked the Bud’s FAQ and it hasn’t been updated, it still says they don’t take PayPal.

  • tsh77769

    YES!!!

  • Drew Coleman

    Companies can choose to refuse to accept cash…

    • RazorHawk

      That should be a red flag.

  • Trotro

    Sure could use a way of purchasing from PSA without credit card fears (over-hyped though those fears may be).

  • teesquare

    Now…if you could convince someone that your gun parts are gay, or a minority…..they would beg to process your payments.

  • uisconfruzed

    EXCELLENT!!! Please follow up with how this progresses.
    I will not use Paypal anymore because of this, and they pulled a 400 employee facility out of NC because we didn’t want creepy men in the bathroom with our daughters. See UMMCO2Vet’s comment below to highlight their hypocrisy even more.

  • George Price

    I find it reprehensible that an article describing an ACTUAL attorney taking paypal to task for their draconian rules regarding “firearm associated” transactions so quickly (and moronically I add) into what I am reading below – “MAYBE THIS” is good reason why Obama was elected president in the first place ?? How can all of you idiots fit in just one stroller ??

    • MichaelZWilliamson

      Can you translate into English, please? Your Tardese wasn’t lucid.

  • Secundius

    This is why I DON’T use PayPal!/? It’s like “Medicaid”?/! Providers/Sellers want to be PAID at the SALE, “NOT” Six-Months AFTER the SALE…

    • MichaelZWilliamson

      ??? Paypal pays at once, not 6 months later. I’m not clear on what your point is.

      Also, paypal will take payment for anything except a firearm or receiver-accessories are unrestricted.

      My research suggests this is the case because as a CA corporation, they don’t want CA claiming their 2.9% is “engaging in the business of selling firearms” of types that are illegal in CA.

      • Secundius

        I get “Screwed” using PayPal, that’s my point…

  • MichaelZWilliamson

    Paypal will take payment for anything except a firearm or receiver-accessories are unrestricted.

    My research suggests this is the case because as a CA corporation, they don’t want CA claiming their 2.9% is “engaging in the business of selling firearms” of types that are illegal in CA.

  • Donald Darr

    I’m glad that they’re going after these companies who discriminate against firearm / ammo sellers and buyers.