Oklahoma bill targeting bank firearm policies back for second try

Bonds

An Oklahoma legislator has once again filed a bill prohibiting government contracts with companies, including banks that underwrite municipal bonds, if they “discriminate” against the firearm industry.

Republican State Sen. Casey Murdock authored a similar bill that fell short of passage in the 2022 legislative session.

“The bill actually had wide margins of support in both chambers, so I’m going to keep pushing to get this measure across the finish line in 2023,” Murdock said in a statement. “The problem is there are businesses that discriminate against firearms companies, including a national banking chain that has policies against loaning to gun manufacturers and gun businesses that sell long rifles to citizens 20 years old or younger.” 

After a similar bill fell short of passage this year, Republican State Sen. Casey Murdock said he will keep pushing to get a measure across the finish line in 2023.

State of Oklahoma

During debate on the original bill last spring, Murdock named several banks he said had “discriminatory” policies, including Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan Chase. Both legislative chambers passed different versions of that bill, sending them to a conference committee. An agreed upon measure that emerged from the committee passed the House, but failed to come up for a vote in the Senate prior to the end of the legislative session. 

Murdock said Oklahoma’s gun policies should be set by the legislators and that the new bill will be taken up by the Republican-controlled legislature during the 2023 session, which begins Feb. 6. 

Senate Bill 15 would prohibit governmental entities in Oklahoma from entering into a contract valued at $100,000 or more with a company for the purchase of goods or services unless the contract contains a written verification from the company that it does not have a practice, policy, guidance or directive that discriminates against a firearm entity or firearm trade association.  

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has pushed similar legislation in several other states. 

The Oklahoma measure mirrors a 2021 Texas law that has sidelined some big bank muni underwriters in that state.

Citigroup, which has remained active, is awaiting a determination by the state attorney general’s office on whether it can continue to participate in muni bond deals.

In 2018, Citigroup announced a U.S. commercial firearms policy that requires new retail sector clients to adhere to “best practices” of prohibiting firearm sales to someone who has not passed a background check or is under age 21, and not selling bump stocks or high-capacity magazines.

It acted in the wake of the February 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida, in which a 19-year-old murdered 17 people using a gun.

Citigroup has a verification on file that it’s in compliance with the Texas law.

A study released earlier this year said the Texas firearm law and another law barring contracts with companies that “boycott” the fossil fuel industry increase borrowing costs for issuers in the state.

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