In another illustration of how the national debate over guns is playing out in the business world, Louisiana is banning two of the nation’s biggest banks from participating in an upcoming bond sale.
The state’s bond commission on Thursday voted 7-6 to bar Citigroup and Bank of America from taking part in a debt offering, citing their “restrictive gun policies.”
“As a veteran and former member of law enforcement, I take the Second Amendment very seriously,” said State Treasurer John Schroder in a statement announcing the decision. “We have a very capable group of underwriters, including some of the biggest banks in America who want to participate in this deal,” he added. “No one can convince me that keeping these two banks in this competitive process is worth giving up our rights.”
Citigroup in March became the first large financial institution to impose restrictions on the firearms industry, saying it felt compelled to act amid the “same cycle of tragedy and inaction.”
The bank made its move just days before the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., organized by survivors of the Parkland High School shooting that killed 17 people on Feb. 14 in Florida.
Citi’s plan involved no longer offering loans or store-branded credit cards to retailers selling bump stocks or guns to people younger than 21, or who had not passed a background check.
Bank of America in April said it would no longer issue loans to companies that manufacture military-style rifles for civilians, noting that at least 150 of its employees had been affected by gun violence over the years.
A spokesperson for Bank of America on Friday declined to comment on Louisiana’s decision. Citi defended its policy as “positive and balanced step to promote gun safety without undermining free markets or Second Amendment rights.”
A Citi spokesperson added in an email: “It is disappointing that the taxpayers of Louisiana will be deprived from competitive bidding for necessary public works because the process has been politicized.”
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