HB 2827 would force banks to do business with firearms manufacturers and retailers
The National Rifle Association and its allies in the gun industry want Arizona lawmakers to force banks to do business with them.
During testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, lobbyists from both groups told lawmakers that some manufacturers were having problems obtaining loans from financial institutions. There have also been complaints about retailers having access to point-of-sale terminals to process credit card transactions.
Michael Findlay, who represents the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said it was more than a trade dispute. He argued that anything that hinders the production and sale of arms has the potential to violate the Second Amendment rights of Arizonans to bear arms.
The measure, HB 2827, sponsored by Rep. Frank Carroll (R-Sun City West) now awaits plenary debate.
But its future is not certain, even in a legislature which is accustomed to approving any qualified measure of protection of the right to own a firearm. This is because the measure could end up setting a precedent for the state telling companies who to do business with.
And it has not escaped debate that the request comes just a year after the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that owners of a Phoenix calligraphy business have a constitutional right to refuse to provide wedding invitations. personalized when same-sex couples exercise their own constitutional right at sea.
Dan Reid, regional director of the NRA, said there is a particular problem lawmakers need to address. “This prevents discrimination in lending practices within the gun industry,” he said. “If businesses are unable to obtain lines of credit, if they have problems processing payments, this in turn could impact downstream consumers.”
This drew questions from Rep Diego Rodriguez (D-Phoenix). “What would be the discriminatory part of a bank or financial institution to say, ‘We just don’t want to lend you money’? ‘ He asked.
Reid said there are instances where businesses that have been up to date with their loans suddenly find that they can’t get money “just on the basis of the business.”
It didn’t impress Rodriguez as unfair or illegal discrimination. “Let’s just say a bank makes a decision, ‘we don’t want to be in the adult industry anymore, for example,’ he said.“ Aren’t we talking about the same thing? ”Rodriguez continued. “Sometimes people just decide they don’t want to do business with other people anymore just because they’ve changed their decision-making process.”
Reid rejected the comparison. “We’re talking about two very different things here in terms of a constitutionally protected right,” he said, not considering whether adult businesses also have a constitutionally protected right under the First Amendment.
“A disturbing trend has developed in which financial institutions refuse to work with entire industries based on the desires of a small voice minority who use the modern megaphone of social media to quash all lawful commerce and businesses,” Findlay said.
He also said there is a precedent for what gun manufacturers and dealers are looking for. “The government has a long history of regulating the banking sector and financial institutions,” he said. For example, he cited the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, public assistance or the good faith exercise of any right. under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. There is also the Americans with Disabilities Act which protects the civil rights of people with disabilities.
Rodriguez bristled at the comparisons. “Do you equate this bill with legislation designed to prevent the ‘redlining’ of racial discrimination?” he asked, referring to federal protections against racial discrimination in housing.
Findlay stepped back. “I don’t equate it with those two things,” he said. But Findlay said it falls under the statutes of what is and is not allowed. “If you block an entire industry and your whole policy is to prevent an entire industry from accessing capital and financial services, then that would be, as the American Code says, discrimination,” he said. .
This did not satisfy Rodriguez who pointed out that the legislation would allow a “victim” of this type of discrimination to obtain not only actual damages, but also treble and punitive damages. “The idea that equating a manufacturer’s access to capital is tantamount to actively and proactively punishing and preventing discrimination in lending, which has been throughout the history of this country, I am offended, “he said. “This bill gives gun manufacturers remedies that I, a person of color, would not have even if I could show that I was discriminated against.
Representative Diego DeGrazia (D-Tucson) suggested that Findlay was taking liberties with what constitutes “discrimination”. He said the law prohibits discrimination against “protected classes” and continued: “These classes are generally based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, age, ”DeGrazia said. “Are you saying that a company that wants to manufacture guns or gun products is sort of a protected class?” He asked.
But House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) said the definition was not that narrow. “The ‘protected class’ here is that of those who exercise the right to bear arms,” he said.
Bowers said it wasn’t like the banks were taking someone’s guns away. “The angle is that we are going to approach and use our considerable power to influence the banking institutions that would otherwise be happy to lend to anyone for a profit,” he said.
Carroll said the state must stand up for the gun industry, saying it “supports the health and safety of people with their Second Amendment right to defend themselves.”
No date has been set for the bill to be presented to the House.