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Louisiana Halts $600 Million Deal with Banks over Corporate Gun Control

Max Slowik

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Members of the Louisiana commission debated whether or not they have the discretion to block the $600 million bond. (Photo: Advocate/Mark Ballard)

The Louisiana State Bond Commission will not be working with Citigroup and Bank of America Merrill Lynch on a deal worth $600 million due to the companies’ position on gun sales. With a 7 to 6 vote the commission decided to walk away from the financial institutions on a planned highway project.

Both Citigroup and Bank of America recently announced new policies limiting their business with gun sellers and manufacturers. State Treasurer John Schroder took a stand against future deals with the companies, arguing that they were infringing on Louisianans’ constitutional right to buy and sell firearms.

“I love it,” said Second Amendment Foundation vice president Alan Gottlieb in an email to GunsAmerica. “These Commissioners are true patriots. This is a great push back on the gun prohibitionists plans to punish all of us who want to exercise our constitutional Second Amendment rights.”

“It is about time that we make our opponents feel the pain for their actions that demonized lawful firearms Ownership,” he added.

Citigroup’s policy halts business with vendors selling “high-capacity” magazines and stores that sell to adults under the age of 21, excepting law enforcement and military customers. Bank of America is no longer working with companies that produce “military-style” guns.

Both companies enacted these policies following prominent shootings. Still, commission members said that their decisions hurt residents’ Second Amendment rights.

“As treasurer and chairman of the Bond Commission it is one of my duties to help hire financial professionals and not necessarily social engineers,” said Schroder. The commission has 16 more bids for the project to evaluate.

“I personally believe the policies of these banks are an infringement on the rights of Louisiana citizens,” said Schroder. “As a veteran and former member of law enforcement, I take the Second Amendment very seriously.

“We have a very capable group of underwriters including some of the biggest banks in America who want to participate in this deal. No one can convince me that keeping these two banks in this competitive process is worth giving up our rights,” he continued.

Opponents, including Republican state senate president John Alario, warned that the decision could lead to lawsuits against the state. “It puts us in an awkward position,” he said. “I am worried about the bottom line to the state of Louisiana, too. True conservatives worry about the dollars.”

“You can’t put a price tag on the Second Amendment,” argued Louisiana Rep. Blake Miguez. “I know you’re from New York,” Miguez told head of Corporate Citizenship at Citigroup Brandee McHale. “This is Louisiana. This is not California. This is not Canada … This is an infringement on Second Amendment constitutional rights in Louisiana.”

McHale said that the bank has “few, if any” customers in the state that have been affected by the policy. “The ability of the merchant to sell the item is being restricted by you,” countered Attorney General Jeff Landry.

Members of the commission debated whether or not they had the discretion to make a decision like this. “This was deciding who we would pay a fee to be a senior advisor,” said Republican House Speaker Taylor Barras. “As we evaluate bidders, it’s within our jurisdiction to ask those questions.