Louisiana is using the bond market to stick up for the Second Amendment.
The state’s bond commission voted 7 to 6 Thursday to ban Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. from working on its upcoming debt sale because of the banks’ “restrictive gun policies,” the state treasury said in a statement. Bank of America and Citigroup are the two top-ranked underwriters of long-term municipal debt, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“I personally believe the policies of these banks are an infringement on the rights of Louisiana citizens,” Treasurer John Schroder said in a statement. “As a veteran and former member of law enforcement, I take the Second Amendment very seriously.”
The ban is the latest example of how corporate America has been drawn into the nation’s polarizing debate over gun control. Earlier this year, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed using the city’s business to push for stricter gun controls by limiting work with Wall Street firms that didn’t cut ties with companies that sold firearms to people under the age of 21 or dealt in high-capacity magazines.
“Citi adopted this policy because we believe it is a positive and balanced step to promote gun safety without undermining free markets or Second Amendment rights,” spokesman Scott Helfman said in an emailed statement. “It is disappointing that the taxpayers of Louisiana will be deprived from competitive bidding for necessary public works because the process has been politicized.”
Bill Halldin, a spokesman for Bank of America, declined to comment.
The ban applies to a $600 million bond deal, according to The Advocate, a newspaper in the state.
The decision by Louisiana comes after Bank of America in April said it would stop making new loans to companies that make military-style rifles for civilian use. At the time, the bank said at least 150 of its employees had been affected by gun violence over the years.
Citigroup was the first major banking institution to set restrictions on the firearm industry in March, when it announced plans to prohibit retailers that are customers of the bank from offering bump stocks or selling guns to people who haven’t passed a background check or are younger than 21. The restrictions applied to companies that rely on the bank for store credit cards, lending and other services.