Texas Forces Companies to Be Gun Neutral or Lose Business | News

To continue doing business with Texas, companies will effectively have to take a vow of neutrality if the latest school shooting massacre sparks another national furor over gun control.

That’s because in June 2021, flanked by Republican lawmakers and National Rifle Association officials, Governor Greg Abbott signed state legislation that grants gun manufacturers, retailers and industry groups special protection, which relies on generally reserved language to protect people from racism, sexism, ageism or other forms of prejudice.

As a result, companies that sign contracts with government agencies there — school districts and cities in Texas itself — must verify that they don’t “discriminate” against the industry, seeking to force them to ignore everything. appeal to sever their business ties.

The unusual provision, which has since inspired legislation in other Republican-run states, shows how hard the gun lobby has wielded in state homes across the country to push back against any effort to restrict access firearms following mass shootings. The latest occurred Tuesday at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in the deadliest shooting since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in the Connecticut ten years ago.

The Texas shooting, which followed a racist attack at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, has reignited the gun control debate, with President Joe Biden saying it’s time to ask when the nation “will stand head to the gun lobby”. ”

But such calls have met with little success before. In fact, while legislative efforts have failed in Washington, the gun industry has succeeded in state capitals in pushing back against new regulations – or, in the case of Texas, in finding ways to even increase its Powerful.

“Texas has gun-friendly legislation that clearly ensures the gun industry is well protected,” said Janice Iwama, a professor at American University who studies the impact of gun laws. fire.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a business group based in Newtown, Conn., has encouraged other states to pass legislation like Texas’s, saying companies in the sector are being denied services by banks. Lawmakers in Oklahoma and Louisiana have advanced similar bills, and additional measures have been introduced elsewhere.

The foundation declined to comment on Wednesday, citing respect for the victims of Tuesday’s shooting. Spokespersons for Governor Abbott did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Texas law has already made waves on Wall Street, where Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. had cut some ties to gun companies, including not lending to those who make military-style weapons. weapons for civilian use. Citigroup Inc. also had restrictions in place for the retailers it works with.

Texas bill requires any public contract with a value of $100,000 or more to include a provision that the company does not and will not discriminate against any weapons entity to fire or a professional association.

For months, Texas lawyers and bankers privately complained about the vagueness of the law and the difficulty, if not impossibility, of defining how a bank could discriminate against a firearms entity.

This led Bank of America, JPMorgan and Goldman to stop underwriting most municipal bond deals in Texas as they assessed it, although Citigroup returned to the market last year. JPMorgan cited ambiguity in the law when it previously announced it would not bid on most government contracts. This month, however, the bank took a first step to re-enter the market, with its law firm sending a letter to state officials defending the policy. Meanwhile, the big banks have lost business to regional firms that haven’t been drawn into political debates like the industrial giants.

The law is also likely to affect the school district where Tuesday’s murder took place. Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District officials recently considered adding a multi-million bond referendum to the November ballot for school improvement projects, according to local reports. To launch this debt issue, any underwriter would have to promise not to reduce their ties to the firearms industry.

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