The Louisiana state bond commission voted to ban the powerful Bank of America and Citigroup from a forthcoming debt sale because of the banks’ "restrictive gun policies," according to the state treasury. The commission voted on Thursday. Bank of America and Citigroup, which are the two top-ranked underwriters of long-term municipal debt, may lose millions in profits as a result. In a statement, state treasurer John Schroder declared, "I personally believe the policies of these banks are an infringement on the rights of Louisiana citizens.” Schroder added, “As a veteran and former member of law enforcement, I take the Second Amendment very seriously."
Louisiana’s action will not hurt Bank of America or Citigroup very much. The two financial institutions underwrote about $110 billion of municipal bonds in 2017, which is approximately 27 percent of those that were issued, according to Bloomberg. Louisiana has received offers from 19 financial institutions to underwrite the sale of $600 million in so-called Garvee bonds to fund interstate highway improvements and tunnel replacements.
In April, Bank of America announced that it would no longer make loans to businesses that manufacture rifles that resemble military weapons for civilian use. BoA declared then that at least 150 of its employees had been affected by gun violence. Citigroup became the first major banking institution to set restrictions on the firearm industry in March. This came when it announced that it was prohibiting retailers that are customers of the bank from offering so-called bump stocks or selling firearms to customers who have not passed a background check or are under the age of 21. The restrictions applied to companies that rely on the bank for store credit cards, lending and other services.
At the commission meeting, Louisiana state Rep. Blake Miguez (R) asked Citigroup’s Brandee McHale, "Do you realize how important the second amendment is to the people of Louisiana?" McHale, who is head of Citigroup corporate citizenship, said of the company’s guidelines: "This policy does not infringe on constitutional rights, and certainly not the right to bear arms."
However, this is the latest example of corporate America’s entry into the contentious debate over Second Amendment rights. Democrats are also pressuring Wall Street to limit investors involvement with gun manufacturers. For instance, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed earlier this year that he would use the business to push for stricter gun controls by limiting its involvement with Wall Street firms that refuse to sever their ties to companies that deal in high-capacity magazines or sell firearms to anyone under the age of 21.
"No one can convince me that keeping these two banks in this competitive process is worth giving up our rights,” state treasurer Schroeder said.