• “Sons Of Guns” was cancelled in 2014 after the main star was arrested for child molestation and later aggravated rape.
• Will Hayden had military experience and established Red Jacket Firearms LLC in 1999.
• In 2009, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms found 10 firearms missing from Red Jacket's inventory.
• In 2011, an airport terminal was temporarily closed when a truckload of pyrotechnics and firearms connected to the show was found suspicious.
• Following the show's cancellation, Will Hayden was sentenced to two life sentences and Stephanie Hayden established her project “Walk Unbroken” to help abuse victims.
All shows have the exact amount of drama to keep its audience entertained for as long as necessary. Nonetheless, it’s no secret that many reality series usually fake or stage situations for the sake of maintaining high ratings.
However, what if things off-screen are severely worse than a series ever shows its audience? That’s exactly what happened to “Sons Of Guns”, the Discovery channel’s show which besides raising eyebrows everywhere due to its controversial concept, also shocked everyone when the dark actions of some of its cast members were revealed.
So whatever happened to the show? Why was it cancelled or taken off air indefinitely? Where is its cast now? Pay attention because we’re going to tell you every dark secret behind “Sons of Guns”!
What Happened To The Show?
After barely three years on air, “Sons Of Guns” was cancelled in 2014. However, no matter how long it’s been since then, there are still too many people who don’t know what exactly happened.
It all goes back to early August that year, when “Sons Of Guns” main star, Will Hayden was arrested for child molestation. Hayden was released after paying a $150,000 fine and declared the accusations were false, affirming his ex-girlfriend was plotting against him for breaking up with her.
Rumors of the show’s possible cancellation arose right after his arrest, as expected, but Hayden’s daughter Stephanie denied it all by saying ‘I guess some (people) just need rating. We are on a hold with filming, while my family takes care of a few things.’
Nonetheless, Stephanie’s post was deleted shortly afterwards for a good reason – only two weeks after his initial arrest, Hayden was captured in Livingston after a second warrant order was filed against him, this time for aggravated rape. The allegations were made by his minor daughter, the same girl whose mother first accused him of molestation.
Though at the time there wasn’t any verdict on the case, Discovery cancelled the show due to ‘the serious and horrific nature’ of the charges.
Red Jacket Firearms Origins
As the founder and owner of Red Jacket Firearms LLC, it’s easily assumed Will Hayden must have had a lot of experience with arms before establishing the business. That’s on spot though, as Will was already a dedicated gun enthusiast during his young years in Baton Rouge, eventually taking that hobby to the next level when he joined the US Marines awhen only 16 years old.
After six years service, Will left the Marines in 1987 and established Red Jacket Refrigeration, his first business which despite not being aligned with his interests, was the right starting point for him. His idea of using an extra room in the shop for a firearms-only storefront was supported by the then-owner of the building and after setting it up, the small business was soon taken to the next step.
With the support of his then-wife and family, in 1999 Will established the business which several years later would be internationally known as Red Jacket Firearms LLC thanks to “Sons Of Guns”.
Nonetheless, the shop’s beginnings weren’t easy as besides requiring an initial investment of $40,000 out of Will’s life-savings, several bank loans supported the business for some time too.
Years prior to Will Hayden’s arrest in 2014, he had already faced several legal issues related to his shop.
It all comes back to 2009, when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) found out that at least 10 firearms were missing from Red Jacket’s inventory. The issue was later explained by the Haydens’ lawyers as being mostly the product of ‘simple bookkeeping errors’ made by the shop’s workers due to them dismissing or destroying certain parts, in addition to the theft of two firearms over the course of seven years.
Despite their defense, not meeting the requirements of keeping track of the missing serial parts clearly violated BATF’s regulations.
The dispute eventually led to the removal of Will’s and Stephanie’s licenses as gun-makers, leaving the Haydens’ with no other option than to put the business in the hands of Vincent Buckles.
In 2011 the original Red Jacket was definitely shut down; though Will was still able to register his new shop Red Jacket Firearms LLC as an officer, Buckles was the shop’s registered agent in what was later described by Haydens’ lawyer as a ‘confidential business decision’. Nonetheless, the shop was apparently soon left in the hands of Will again, after Buckles resigned from his position.
The Airport Incident
Everyone who watched “Sons Of Guns” while it aired, must remember when the show caused the temporary closure of an airport’s terminal. It happened in 2011, when a production staff member of the series left a truck unattended near to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport while waiting for a co-worker.
The truck’s load of pyrotechnics and firearms – obviously connected to the show – were found quite suspicious by airport authorities, especially considering that day was the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Of course, the fact the truck was related to “Sons Of Guns” in addition to the short-lived closure of the terminal made news about the issue rapidly spread in the media. Although FBI investigations showed that the truck’s driver wasn’t at fault of any crime, the show’s executive producer Stephen Land apologized and admitted their fault: ‘This is a case of a simple yet colossal error in judgement by a member of our staff’, he said in a public statement.
An airport’s spokesperson described the show’s staff members as ‘people unaware of what our nation is going through’. In defense of “Sons Of Guns”, the issue didn’t cause any cancellation or delay in the airport’s operations.
Where Is The Show’s Cast Now?
After being accused and arrested for molesting a child, you might think it couldn’t get worse for Will Hayden, but it did! His second arrest was prompted when his 12-year-old daughter declared Will had been raping her on a daily basis for almost two years.
The girl had kept it a secret due to Will’s threats of physical violence, in addition to emotional manipulation. As read in the court documents, things such as ‘don’t tell them nothing, because I’m all you got’ were said by Will all the time. It was also stated that the minor girl, whose name obviously wasn’t revealed, is the daughter of Will and his ex-girlfriend, but lived with him and his then new-wife when the abuse happened.
Not long after his second incarceration, Will’s oldest daughter Stephanie came forward to accuse him of molesting her when she was 12 years old.
As People.com reported back then, the testimonies of both victims were ‘unbearable’ to hear: ‘she actually threw up five times while testifying’, said the District Attorney.
In April 2017 Will was found guilty of the charges and was condemned to two life sentences followed by 40 years in prison, in addition, not being eligible for parole or probation.
Life wasn’t easy for Stephanie following the cancellation of “Sons Of Guns”. Though her father was ultimately found guilty of sexually abusing her and her half-sister, at the time Stephanie came forward with her accusations she was met with a lot of scepticism.
As it happens, she had defended her father when the first charges of child molestation were brought to light in early August 2014. Nonetheless, when it was later revealed she had been his victim too, Will’s lawyer affirmed that she was lying: ‘Her complaints arose only after her income from the show and (gun) shop stopped. She’s still Will’s daughter and he loves her’.
Though Will’s defense kept saying her allegations were false, others were empathetic towards Stephanie. Unfortunately, in November that year Stephanie and her then-husband Kris Ford were arrested for cruelty to juveniles, following allegations made by her ex-husband William Scott, who accused the couple of hitting the nine years old son he has in common with Stephanie. The couple was released under a bond of $25,000.
Nowadays life seems to be going better for Stephanie. She’s apparently divorced from Kris Ford and is now committed to her project “Walk Unbroken”, a podcast and YouTube series on which she helps abuse victims to find advice and a safe space to share their experiences.
Though Kris Ford has kept away from the entertainment world for years, his life hasn’t been uneventful. Following the cancellation of “Sons Of Guns”, Kris was particularly supportive of his then-wife Stephanie, to the point he even shared a Facebook poem about her traumatic experiences, and apparently also encouraged her to relate her story in “Dr. Phil” at the time.
It’s not exactly clear what led to Kris and Stephanie’s separation, though. Following their joint arrest in late 2014, they were seen again at some public events and rallies. However, at some point the relationship ended, and Kris eventually shared pics on social media of himself with Katy Griffin, his supposedly new girlfriend.
Nonetheless, Kris’ apparent tranquil life took an unexpected turn when he was arrested for domestic abuse in late 2020. As seen in several videos presented to authorities, Kris hit, choked and threatened an unidentified woman. At the time of his arrest, the woman had several injuries, but he was ultimately released on a $7,000 bond, and it’s unknown if further charges were preferred against him.
As seen on his Instagram, Kris is still pretty much passionate about firearms, and owns his own gun shop – Ford’s Firearms.
Although Joe Meaux was a main star of “Sons Of Guns”, many people were surprised to see him taking such an active role in the business after Will Hayden’s scandal came to light.
Joe admitted that he believed in the innocence of Will, even in spite of the horrific accusations against his former boss: ‘You don’t want to believe somebody you have known over the last five years had the capability of doing that’ he told Fox News.
Nonetheless, in light of his second arrest, Joe apparently judged the real nature of his relationship with Will: ‘looking back at it a lot of our interactions had ulterior motives from him. Manipulations and things’. Not long after “Sons Of Guns” cancellation, he took control over Red Jacket Firearms, and affirmed that the business was moving forward without ‘all the drama’.
On the other hand, Joe was apparently supportive of Stephanie after she stepped forward to denounce her father for sexual abuse. As Joe affirmed, he wanted ‘to be helpful’ to those Will hurt, though he also stated he didn’t want his former boss’ wrongdoings to damage the image of people involved with the gun-manufacturing business.
Nowadays Joe is owner of Meaux Guns, a shop specializing in gunsmithing and of Aklys Defense, a firearm’s manufacturer.
You might remember Charlie Watson for being the firearm expert of Red Jacket Firearms, but he was also the only “Sons Of Guns” cast member who never got involved in the drama. Following the cancellation of the show and Will’s incarceration, Charlie has kept a low profile and never returned to the world of entertainment.
Even so, Charlie’s still active in the gunsmithing business by working in Joe Meaux’s manufacturing shop Aklys Defense. As well, Charlie has over 10,000 followers on his official Facebook page, quite a high number considering he rarely updates it.
What Happened To The Shop?
As expected, the serious allegations against Will Hayden are the main focus when it comes to “Sons Of Guns”, but people also inevitably wonder what happened to Red Jacket Firearms LLC.
Following Will’s arrest, Red Jacket did its best to keep on in business while avoiding any connection with him. In a statement posted on the shop’s now defunct website, the then-new owner Joe Meaux expressed how the business was obtaining a ‘full legal separation as an entity’ from Will.
Nonetheless, given that the business is impossible to find online nowadays, it’s not hard to assume that the damage caused by Will’s actions made it difficult for Red Jacket to clean-up its image, and eventually closed.
On the other hand, Will’s wrongdoings affected “Sons Of Guns” more than just for its cancellation. As it happens, Discovery not only halted the show’s production, but also its distribution, making it impossible to find “Sons Of Guns” on any online streaming platforms.
This proves that despite the good times the show might have had while it aired, “Sons Of Guns” was left to be forgotten, following the negative publicity, and memories it evokes.