By Larry Keane
Big corporations with “woke” policies are waking up to the fact that smaller businesses are glad to take the business they shun.
American Banker reported that corporate banks are quaking in their boots over the Texas state legislature’s debating a bill that would end taxpayer support to contract with corporations that willfully discriminate against the firearm industry. The bill, SB 19, is termed the Firearm Industry Nondiscrimination (FIND) Act and would end discrimination by corporate entities against the firearm industry if those companies wanted to do business with the state. The legislation would deny corporations the ability to benefit from taxpayer-funded state or municipal contracts while at the same time holding policies that would deny services to firearm-related businesses. Texas’s legislature is taking a stand that they’re unwilling to sell out the Second Amendment rights of their citizens to safeguard the profit margins of big corporations that use their might to force policy outside of legislative channels.
The bill passed the state’s House of Representatives and is pending in the state Senate. One group is now saying they’re fine with the $58.4 billion in local bonds that are at stake. If corporate entities – including big banks like Bank of America and Citigroup – choose to deny services to an entire industry because they don’t want to support Second Amendment rights, local banks are ready to take the business.
Locals Like It
“I don’t think it’s an issue in Texas with our banks domiciled here. We have remained neutral on this,” said Steve Scurlock, director of government relations for the Independent Bankers Association of Texas, according to American Banker. “This may give some opportunity for expansion in the public finance space for our community banks.”
The legislation doesn’t force the state to end contracts with corporations. All it does is require corporations that seek to do business with the state and local municipalities to certify that they hold no policies that discriminate against firearms or ammunition businesses and won’t hold those policies while the state contracts are in force. Corporations that have contracts could continue to compete for them, should the bill be passed by the state Senate and signed by Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott. They just have to stop unfairly discriminating against an industry that provides the means for Second Amendment rights.
Texas state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione shepherded the bill through the House and said it’s really quite simple.
“They should not be able to receive taxpayer dollars if they do not support the Constitution,” Rep. Capriglione said. He was ready to name names too. When pressed, Rep. Capriglione said Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp., along with Intuit, Square and PayPal have all held discriminatory policies to choke out gun-related business while they enjoy Texas tax money to do it.
The legislation was so important to the state that Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick marked it as one of his top 30 priority bills at the start of the legislative session. The bill’s lead sponsor, Republican state Sen. Charles Schwertner, explained the bill’s importance this way.
“These institutions hold our money and attempt to use financial pressure to infringe upon our Second Amendment rights,” Rep. Schwertner said. “This is unacceptable.”
Corporations are huffing and puffing, telling legislators that if the bill is signed into law, it will cost taxpayers more money. Local banks, whose employees live, work and raise their families in Texas are singing a different tune, according to the Texas Bankers Association.
“This is Texas where there is broad support for the Second Amendment by our elected state leaders and a large number of our bank members, so our association has not opposed the legislation,” the group’s general counsel, John Heasley, said in an emailed statement to American Banker. “It is also a competitive marketplace, and in that context, individual institutions have to decide for themselves their policies and the implications based on the markets and customers they serve.”
In other words, Heasley’s telling big corporations not to step in something that can’t be scraped off.
That’s not just common sense. That’s smart business.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.