Louisiana AG Demands Answers About JPMorgan's Stance On Gun Control

The gun control lobby’s been successful over the past few years at convincing several of the country’s largest financial institutions to adopt anti-gun policies when it comes to doing business with the firearms industry, but Second Amendment supporters are beginning to push back on the big banks. In Texas, a new law blocks banks that have internal policies discriminating against the industry from participating in the state’s municipal bond market, and other Republican-led states are weighing similar legislation.

Louisiana’s had a similar measure in place since 2019, though it was the state’s Bond Commission and not the state legislature enacting the policy. According to the commission’s policy, Louisiana has the right to end business relationships with any financial institution, so long as the company’s engaged in “restrictive practices against law-abiding citizens”, including the “right to purchase and sell arms.”

In fact, in 2019 the state said that Citibank and Bank of America weren’t eligible to underwrite a $600-million road plan because of their anti-gun policies, and now Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is turning his attention to banking giant JPMorgan Chase.

JPMorgan Chase is one of eight banks selected by the bond commission to serve as a senior managing underwriter for major financial transactions. According to Landry, a bond commission member, the New York-based financial institution has participated in two transactions since February 2020, totaling as much as $1.1 billion.

As part of the selection process, a Solicitation for Offers (SFO) document includes a question asking banks about any policies that would restrict or infringe on constitutionally protected gun rights or discriminate against Louisianans who exercise such rights.

JPMorgan Chase said it had none.

In a letter sent last week to Jamie Dimon, the bank’s chair and CEO, Landry cited Dimon’s testimony before the U.S. House Financial Services Committee in May that could suggest otherwise.

“In this testimony, you stated the following in response to a question from Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.): ‘we do not finance the manufacture of military-style weapons for civilian use,’” Landry wrote.

Landry also said the response “called into question your ability to do business in several states, including Louisiana.”

I think Jamie Dimon is about to get a lesson in why corporations can never win by going woke. Landry’s correct in noting that Dimon’s testimony back in May certainly indicates that JPMorgan Chase discriminates against some gun makers. In fact, I can’t understand why JPMorgan Chase would have told the Louisiana Bond Commission otherwise, given the fact that the company has already decided it can’t participate in the Texas municipal bond market because of its policies. And it’s not like these policies were a secret. The financial firm was happy to discuss their discrimination when their policies changed in 2018.

JPMorgan Chase’s business relations with gunmakers “have come down significantly and are pretty limited,” Chief Financial Officer Marianne Lake told reporters after the nation’s number one bank by assets issued its first-quarter earnings results.

“We do have robust risk management practices and policies associated with this, and we have had (them) for a number of years,” said Lake. “We continue to always refine them and work on them.”

It seems pretty indisputable that JPMorgan Chase has policies that place its services beyond the reach of many businesses in the firearms industry, which should indeed make the company ineligible to participate in Louisiana’s municipal bond market as well. But while the bank is shutting itself out of underwriting these bonds because of their anti-gun policies, some gun control activists have complained that the company should be doing more. Back in March, the Reno, Nevada City Council decided to delay a vote on banking with JPMorgan Chase because of its alleged “inaction on gun reform.”

Councilman Devon Reese led the charge, arguing the council should reject JP Morgan Chase as a way to take a stand against gun violence.

“The way to express our concern, at least one that I think is powerful, is with our financial wherewithal so that JP Morgan Chase knows we will not support them because they are making policies that continues to perpetuate gun violence in this country,” Reese said.

… JP Morgan Chase was given an “F” rating by Guns Down America, an advocacy group that drives a “fewer guns, safer communities” message.

The report’s rating is based off of: the financial relationships between banks and gun, ammunition, and accessory manufacturers during the last three years; financial relationships between the banks and the National Rifle Association or Gun Owners of America; whether or not the banks give National Rifle Association members benefits; statements made by banks reflecting their public positions on gun violence, gun control policy, or mass violence; and campaign donations to the NRA’s Million Dollar Members.

Jamie Dimon has managed to hit the sweet spot of making JPMorgan Chase too anti-gun for states like Texas and Louisiana, but not anti-gun enough for the likes of the gun control lobby. I guess talent like that is why he gets paid the big bucks.

The easiest thing for Dimon to do to repair the damage would be to simply declare that JPMorgan Chase isn’t going to take a position on the right to keep and bear arms, and they’re happy to do business with any company producing a legal product as long as it makes good financial sense to do so. Sure, the gun control lobby wouldn’t like it, but given the fact that they’re already complaining the company hasn’t gone far enough to deny the firearms industry access to its services, it’s clear that JPMorgan Chase can’t win by going woke. Instead, they should ditch their foray into the world of anti-gun activism and get back to business.

 

 

Nov 29, 2021 4:30 PM ET