The good news is that the Bill of Rights protects us against big government. The bad news is that the Louisiana Legislature doesn’t understand it.
At least not when a politically influential interest group — the National Rifle Association — wants big-government mandates to change the policies of businesses they don’t like.
This corruption of conservative thought, basic to the rule of law in the United States, comes to the State Capitol courtesy of state Rep. Blake Miguez, R-Erath, whose election-year bill would tell private companies what they can and can’t do where firearms are concerned.
The 66-28 vote in the House in favor of Miguez’s bill ought to be reversed in the Senate.
Miguez’s legislation prohibits banks with gun control policies from refusing to do business with companies that sell or make firearms.
House Bill 413 would pile on to a dubious State Bond Commission ruling last year that banned two national banks from participating in the funding of highway projects. Citigroup and Bank of America had put limits on handling the finances of companies that sold or manufactured certain types of guns. The policies were in the wake of the 2018 shooting at a Florida high school, which killed 17 students and teachers.
The banks appear to be making a commercial decision in light of recent mass shootings.
As Miguez and his followers, were told, to no avail: “It’s called capitalism. If you don’t like what the bank's telling you, you go down the street and find another bank.” That advice from state Rep. Sam Jones, a Franklin Democrat, was supplemented by lawyers who told members of the House that the Second Amendment, like the others in the Bill of Rights, is written to restrict the actions of government, not private citizens — or even banks in New York.
If you’re a bank or a credit union in Louisiana, how are you going to deal with Miguez’s vision of whom you do business with? And if the state attorney general — currently Jeff Landry, of Miguez’s political complexion — wants to meddle in your business, as the allegedly conservative state treasurer did in the Bond Commission debate, what is your recourse?
A state that balances its budget with temporary taxes, can't pay its teachers a competitive wage and can't fix its roads shouldn’t be telling banks how to run their business, especially through a bill that’s constitutionally questionable, to say the least.
The old saying is that no one’s property is safe when the Legislature is in session. Ill-conceived election-year bills like this one give credence to the rule.