Two of the biggest banks in the nation, Citigroup and Bank of America, will not be allowed to participate in a new highway project in the state of Louisiana because of their anti-gun policies.
Louisiana’s bond commission decided to block the banks from taking part in the project because after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., both corporations created a policy that they would only work with retailers who agreed to new restrictions on gun purchases — rules that were stricter than what federal law requires.
Louisiana’s bond commission said it wouldn’t tolerate that kind of bullying over a constitutional right and voted 7-6 to block the companies from gaining a piece of the financing for a $600 million highway plan.
The vote was a win for pro-gun advocates looking to make inroads in a debate that is increasingly spilling into the corporate arena, and comes as major service companies and social media giants move to adopt anti-firearms policies.
“If you have zero respect for the U.S. Constitution, then you don’t need to do business with the state of Louisiana,” said Sen. John N. Kennedy, a Republican who cheered his state’s move from Washington.
Opponents said Louisiana is opening itself to a lawsuit, though state Attorney General Jeff Landry said he believes state officials have “discretion to determine whether or not we want [an] agent to represent the state that restricts the Second Amendment rights that our citizens have.”
“It is not us who brought the social police into this commission — it is these institutions who did so, and in a very, very public way,” he said.
The banks said they aren’t infringing on constitutional rights.
Citibank in March announced it would work with retail clients only if they required background checks for gun purchases and curb sales, with some exceptions, to people under 21. Bank of America also announced after February’s Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that it would stop lending to clients that manufacture some styles of semiautomatic firearms.
This is some welcome pushback against corporations that are adopting ever more restrictive policies about doing business with companies in the gun business. The thing is, pressure from consumers is not that intense. Activists are loud and are getting a lot of press, but perhaps if more states and local governments followed the lead of the Louisiana bond commission, corporations would have to weigh how more restrictive gun policies actually hurt their bottom line more than respecting the Second Amendment.
Right now, the pressure is all in one direction. Applying a little counter pressure would at least give gun companies some cover in what promises to be a long struggle to maintain the right to bear arms.