In March, Chicago announced plans to ban banks from bond deals unless they quit doing business with companies selling high-powered guns and bump stocks to all and sundry.
Last week, Louisiana decided to ban banks from bond deals if they refused to do business with companies selling high-powered guns and bump stocks to all and sundry.
The Second Amendment — America's favorite political football.
Chicago wanted to discourage sales of military-style weapons following yet another massacre, this one at a school in Parkland, Florida. So an ordinance was drafted requiring that any financial institution wishing to be hired by the city file an affidavit attesting that its clients did not include retailers of weapons suitable for mass assassination. The banks would also have to swear they did not do business with gun dealers who sell to minors or skip background checks.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and most members of the City Council were in favor of the ordinance because the bullet-ridden bodies were really piling up on the streets of Chicago. That will never happen in Louisiana. The ordinance, that is. We've got the bodies for sure.
In Chicago, the banks pointed out that it was impossible to vouch for all their clients, and questioned whether Chicago had the authority to regulate their lending policies anyway. In the end, the city, fearing it might lose access to capital markets, decided that it could not afford to alienate bankers and dumped what had been dubbed its Safe Guns Policy.
But Finance Committee Chairman Edward Burke, leading proponent of that policy, found some consolation. What government had failed to force the banks to do, they could manage of their own accord, he pointed out, citing Citi and Bank of America, Merrill Lynch. Both of them reacted to Parkland by declining to do business with dealers who peddle guns more appropriate to the battlefield or accept customers who haven't made 21 or kept a clean record.
That may have pleased Burke, but it sure didn't please Louisiana State Treasurer John Schroder who, in his capacity as chairman of the Bond Commission, made a motion to deny the two banks any role in the upcoming issue. It passed 7-6, although limiting the pool of eligible banks will drive up the interest rate the state must pay and make the bonds harder to sell, the experts told the commission.
Whereas Chicago was not prepared to pay a financial penalty to advance its gun polities, Louisiana commissioners are made of sterner stuff. They don't care how much of your money they must spend to preen themselves as champions of a right to keep and bear arms beyond rational restraint.
John Kennedy, who was state Treasurer for 17 years before becoming a U.S.senator last year, applauded the commission vote, which he construed as a triumph of principle over pelf. “If you have zero respect for the U.S. Constitution, then you don't need to be doing business with the state of Louisiana,” he said. A modest attempt to reduce the carnage that visits so much misery on America hardly amounts to “zero respect” for the constitution, but we're used to simple-minded, crowd-pleasing pronouncements from Kennedy these days.
Kennedy evidently wants to run for governor, but if he is to win he cannot allow his dreadful secret to come out. It could be the kiss of death if voters checked out his distinguished academic record and tagged him as an intellectual. Meanwhile, he is keen to discredit the governor he would like to replace, blasting John Bel Edwards for siding with “elite” bankers against the Second Amendment.
Edwards grew up hunting in Tangipahoa Parish, graduated from West Point and went on to become an army officer. The most paranoid gun nut could hardly believe Edwards wants to disarm him.
Quite apart from the money lost by limiting competition for the state's business, the bond commission leaves itself open to lawsuits disputing its authority to discriminate on grounds extraneous to its role as financial watchdog. Louisiana cannot resist shooting itself in the foot.
Email James Gill at Gill1407@bellsouth.net.