If any of you Discovery viewers don’t know what happened to Sons of Guns — and, for that matter, what happened to Red Jacket Firearms, the shop featured on the reality show — brace yourselves for a disturbing update.
For the five seasons that made it to air, Sons of Guns — a show about Red Jacket Firearms and its custom guns — was a hit for Discovery. The cable channel was even hyping up a sixth season in early 2014, hailing star Will Hayden as “an American success story” in a press release.
“Having turned his Louisiana-based small business, Red Jacket Firearms, into a regional powerhouse, he’s ready for the next step for himself and his family,” the network added, per The Washington Post. “Like so many American small businesses, Will’s journey from garage-based gun shop to the pride of Baton Rouge is rife with personal sacrifices and some risky decisions.”
Then, however, came Hayden’s arrests. (Warning: This article covers rape convictions.)
What happened to ‘Sons of Guns’?
In August 2014, sheriff’s deputies in East Baton Rouge Parish, La., arrested Hayden and booked him child molestation, TMZ reported at the time. He posted bail and was released, but two weeks later, he was arrested again on a charge of alleged aggravated rape of a child, according to the Post.
And that’s when Discovery canceled Sons of Guns. “Given the serious and horrific nature of the charges against Will Hayden, we have decided to halt further production of ‘Sons of Guns’ and cancel the series,” the network said in a statement at the time.
In April 2017, Hayden was found guilty in East Baton Rouge Parish of two counts of aggravated rape of a girl in 2013 and 2014, as well as a count of forcible rape of another girl in the 1990s, according to The Advocate. For those crimes — which Hayden denied during his testimony — he was sentenced to life in prison, plus 40 years.
That July, in Livingston Parish, La., Hayden pleaded no contest to another aggravated rape charge and a charge of aggravated incest, and he was sentenced to life in prison for the former and 10 years for the latter, to be served concurrently with his previous sentences. And in November 2019, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied Hayden’s appeal of his convictions.
What happened to Red Jacket Firearms?
Red Jacket Firearms co-owner Joe Meaux rebranded the business in January 2015, according to The Advocate, opening Meaux Guns and Ammos just down the street in Baton Rouge.
Meaux was also one of the Red Jacket Licensing business partners who sued Hayden for breach of contract, and a state judge ordered Hayden to pay them $130,000. “It has been hard getting past the stigma of what Will has done,” Meaux told the newspaper.
If you need support, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit RAINN.org to chat online one-on-one with a support specialist at any time.