Louisiana House approves bill banning government contracts with anti-gun companies

Mark Lennihan

Earlier this week we talked with Darren LaSorte of the National Shooting Sports Foundation about the FIND Act; model legislation introduced in several states that seeks to block companies with anti-gun policies from doing any business with the state or any political subdivisions. The measure, which was signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last year and is expected to hit governors’ desks in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri in the months ahead, has now received the green light from the Louisiana House of Representatives, which approved the bill on a lopsided 71-26 vote this week.

The bill requires contracting companies to provide written verification they do not have policies that discriminate against a firearm entity or trade association and will not discriminate against the same.

The provision would apply to contracts with a value over $100,000, or those that meet three criteria: Paid with public funds, involves a company with at least 10 employees, and is entered into after Aug. 1, 2022.

“This legislation simply states that with very limited exceptions large companies that have overreaching policies of discrimination against the firearms industry may not contract with state and local governments for goods and services,” [Rep. Blake] Miguez said.

The 71 votes in favor of the bill means the measure has a veto-proof majority in the state House, which is critically important given that a similar bill sailed through the legislature in 2021, but was unable to overcome a veto by Gov. John Bel Edwards, who also vetoed a Constitutional Carry bill in the same session.

Louisiana Republicans are intent on running both bills again, and like the FIND Act, the state House has approved the carry bill and sent it on to the state Senate for debate.

While some critics claim that passage of the bill will drive up the cost of governmental contracts, Miguez says that hasn’t come to pass where the measure has already become law.

“I can say my Second Amendment rights are not for sale. I’m confident that a vast majority of Louisianans agree with this,” he said. “This bill has been in effect for more than eight months now in Texas with no evidence of increased cost to government, we’ve actually seen a decrease in those costs.

“It is working precisely as it was intended,” Miguez said. “The hope is that these companies that do have these discriminatory policies will scrap them and get back to doing what they do best: Making profits for their shareholders, and not try to develop public policy.”

Rep. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, suggested the bill amounts to government interference in private business, but Miguez countered by pointing to a myriad of existing consumer protection laws that regulate important industries like insurance and banking.

Interestingly, Miguez says that the Louisiana Bankers Association has remained neutral on the bill, which could help the legislation garner a few more votes in the state Senate. Miguez also played a role in the recent passage of the Constitutional Carry bill by successfully including an amendment that requires the Louisiana State Police to come up with a free, voluntary, online training class for gun owners to help alleviate concerns that scrapping the licensing mandate for concealed carry will lead to more people carrying guns who don’t know how to safely handle them.

At the moment, it’s unclear when the upper chamber will take up either the FIND Act or Constitutional Carry, but the carry bill has been sitting in the Senate Judiciary Committee since late April without a hearing. There’s no reason for Republicans in the Senate to stonewall either bill, so I do expect they’ll start moving in the not-too-distant future, but the bigger question is whether or not they can get to Edwards desk with veto-proof support. And honestly, even that won’t guarantee passage. Last year’s Constitutional Carry bill was originally approved on a 27-9 vote, but during the veto override session a number of senators (including three Republicans) flipped their vote and the measure failed by a vote of 23-15; still a majority but less than the two-thirds support needed to override a veto.

Those three Republicans (Franklin Foil, Patrick Connick, and Louie Bernard) are still in the Senate, and certainly can’t be counted on to approve the Constitutional Carry when it does eventually arrive on the Senate floor, though it remains an open question as to how they’ll vote on the FIND Act. Hopefully Louisiana gun owners are making their opinions known to their own senators… and hopefully those senators are actually listening.