NEWS: Louisiana State Lawmakers Look to Outlaw Banks from Discriminating Against Firearms Industry
A year-old political battle over firearms policies adopted by handful of national banks and financial institutions is still burning in the Louisiana State Capitol.
House Bill 413 Rep. Blake Miguez, a New Iberia Republican and competitive shooter, would outlaw what he called “discrimination” by making it illegal for a bank, credit card processor or other financial institution to turn down customers because of their involvement in the firearms industry.
Under Miguez’s proposal, no bank could reject a potential customer “solely” because that business made or sold guns legally under Louisiana law. Complaints would be directed to the Attorney General’s Office, which could investigate and pursue civil penalties against any offending banks.
Miguez and lobbyists for the firearms industry framed the measure as a defense of Louisianans’ Second Amendment right to own firearms against “political” or “social” policies imposed by out-of-state corporations.
“Without financing, these businesses could go out of business overnight,” Miguez said of gun dealers, shooting ranges and others in the industry. “This (bill) is sort of protecting those businesses from the financial institutions” if they decide to “solely discriminate” against businesses legally dealing guns or ammunition in Louisiana.
Miguez’s bill is aimed squarely at a number of major national banks — Bank of America and Citigroup Inc. among them — that imposed rules on gun-dealing clients or pared back business with manufacturers in the wake of deadly mass-shootings.
The banks’ moves prompted an intense political backlash from gun-friendly lawmakers. Miguez and a handful of other conservative Louisiana Republicans led a successful effort at the State Bond Commission in August to block Citigroup and Bank of America from participating in a $600 million state highway project because of the firearms policies.
Miguez’s bill would now go further by attempting to outlaw those policies under state law.
But critics of the proposal said it’d trample on private companies’ prerogative to set their own policies and decide what other companies to do business with.
Rep. Cedric Glover, D-Shreveport, pointedly asked Miguez if his law didn’t deny the right of “conscientious business owners” at financial institutions to run their business how they choose. A bank might not want to support the pornography industry, Glover noted, despite U.S. Supreme Court decisions finding pornography is protected by the First Amendment.
Glover also noted Miguez’s bill would still allow gun shops to impose tighter restrictions on firearms sales than Louisiana state law requires, such setting higher minimum age requirements.
Miguez contended the fact that most of the financial industry is “highly regulated” by state and federal regulators — and the fact that losing access to banking services can strangle a business — should allow for greater government interference to protect the gun industry’s “Second Amendment rights” from “discrimination.”
“Not just any business owner — it’s in particular the financial institutions, which are highly regulated,” said Miguez.
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