TEXAS — The Texas Senate last week passed a bill that would prohibit Texas state agencies or entities from contracting with companies who refuse to do business with firearm companies or firearm trade associations.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the National Rifle Association are backing the proposed legislation, saying it addresses "discrimination against the firearms industry."
If it passes, Senate Bill 19 would prevent any company from receiving contracts from the state or other government agencies valued at $100,000 or more “unless the company verifies in writing that it does not have an internal policy or directive that discriminates against members of the lawful firearm or ammunition industries.”
Republican sponsors of the bill said in their analysis of the proposed legislation that the bill was necessary to “ensure that any company in Texas with a policy that attempts to restrict gun or ammunition sales will not be allowed to benefit from tax dollars through state contracts.”
The bill was listed as one of Patrick’s top 30 priorities at the beginning of the Texas Legislature’s 87th session, which began in January. He's labeled it the “Stop Corporate Gun Boycotts” bill.
The bill passed in the Senate on April 15 and now awaits committee hearings and a vote in the State House.
“Large banks and other financial institutions in our country have quietly enacted policies to restrict gun sales and exert pressure on the firearm industry,” the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Charles Schwertner, a Republican from Georgetown, said in his filings for the proposed legislation. “These institutions hold our money and attempt to use financial pressure to infringe upon our Second Amendment rights. This is unacceptable.”
In 2018, Bank of America said it would stop financing companies making “military-style firearms” for civilian use. That same year, Citibank said it would place new requirements on its customers who sell firearms to restrict their sales to customers who have gone through a background check and are over the age of 21. The bank at the time said it would stop working with companies that sold “bump stocks” or high-capacity magazines.
The banks’ announcements came in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida that killed 17 people.
The passage of Senate Bill 19 in the Senate follows a series of gun-related bills working their way through the 87th Legislature.
Most notably, the Texas House last week passed a permitless carry bill, which would allow all Texans over the age of 21 to carry a handgun, openly or concealed, under a provision often referred to by gun lobbyists as “constitutional carry.”
Currently, Texans must first pass a safety course and background check required to get a license to carry a handgun openly or concealed.
Gun reform advocates have decried the bill’s passage, saying it would eliminate safeguards and potentially pose a threat to public safety.
Permitless carry and the bill addressing “discrimination against the firearms industry” are part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s and the lieutenant governor’s push this legislative session to make it easier to own and carry guns easier in Texas, said Gyl Switzer, the executive director of Texas Gun Sense.
Texas Gun Sense is a non-profit, nonpartisan group that lobbies for “common sense, evidence-based policies to reduce gun injuries and deaths.”
Should it pass, Texas would become the fourteenth state to allow permitless carry, bringing national attention to the debate around the law.
Despite the national attention around the debate on the Texas bill, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick this week said he did not believe there were enough votes in the Senate to pass the bill and get it to the governor to sign into law.
However, dozens of other bills filed this session prioritized by the lieutenant governor and backed by Abbott related to firearms have moved quickly through both chambers.
“The permitless carry bill is the most comprehensive, so, unfortunately, the others, I would think, would have a pretty good chance of passing,” Switzer said.