California is a laboratory for oppressive and ineffective gun control. And, for the most part, the proponents of these measures have kept up the charade that they are aimed at reducing crime, accidents, or suicides. But now some activists are becoming emboldened to drop the pretense and to admit they simply want to do away with guns entirely. California Senate Bill 637 is a case in point. It is the sort of end-stage gun control that doesn’t even attempt to distinguish between the bad actors and the law-abiding and simply seeks to suppress firearm-related activity as such. The point of the bill, introduced by Sen. Dave Min (D-37), is nothing less than to end firearm-related commerce in the Golden State.
As described by its sponsor, SB 637 would require “every aspect” of California’s sprawling portfolio of public spending – including municipal bonds, capital projects, investments, pension systems, and more – to “cut off business with any banks or lenders with business customers that manufacture firearms.”
Note that the bill is not aimed at banks that launder money for illegal firearm traffickers. Nor does it limit itself to circumstances involving manufacturers that, while otherwise legal, produce any of the ever-increasing types of firearms that are prohibited from sale or possession in California.
Indeed, the bill is expressly aimed at manufacturers with above-board banking relationships, exactly the type that could survive the “risk management” scrutiny of the banks themselves, which itself is no easy task after Operation Choke Point and similar efforts sought to make firearm-related commerce toxic. Any such bank, no matter what level of due diligence it applied to those relationships or how scrupulously managed and law-abiding the firearm manufacturer itself happened to be, would be punished by the state for participating in this sector of lawful, constitutionally-protected commerce.
Simply put, the bill would isolate and segregate firearm manufacturers out of the innumerable types of lawful businesses operating in California and REQUIRE banks to discriminate against them or face grave financial consequences and perhaps even shareholder actions for breach of fiduciary duty.
According to a press release announcing the bill, “the state manages $3.1 trillion in banking transactions within a fiscal year.” Wikipedia describes California as having “the largest sub-national economy in the world,” with a nominal GDP that is exceeded only by four entire nations. Meanwhile, California has been cited as having the most burdensome tax structure in America. Its per capita state and local spending has also been ranked as the 6th highest in the nation. It is therefore unlikely that any bank operating in California could or would be willing to forgo any sort of business relationship with the state, merely to continue servicing its gun manufacturing clients.
Min himself was not coy about his intentions in announcing the bill, stating it would “force Wall Street to make a choice between the blood money offered by the gun industry and doing business with the State of California.” He also said it would send a “strong market signal that the State of California will not, either directly or indirectly, finance gun violence.”
It is telling that doing business with lawful gun manufacturers is indistinguishable in Min’s mind with financing “gun violence.” California gun owners and gun businesses have been hearing for years that additional burdens on their rights and livelihoods are necessary to enhance public safety. But having achieved the most gun-controlled state in the nation is not enough for the likes of Dave Min. Now, extremists like him are forced to admit they simply want to stamp out the firearm industry altogether.
Meanwhile, pro-gun states like Texas are taking affirmative action to combat discrimination against lawful, financially-sound businesses in the firearm industry. Banks that have caved to anti-gun politics are starting to experience real consequences in the Lone Star State, with Citigroup recently having been disqualified from a $3.4 billion municipal bond deal over its own refusal to conduct business with law-abiding members of the firearm industry. Similar legislation is now pending in Congress.
To date, it is not clear that Min’s bill is attracting much support, even among the firearm prohibitionists who compose the majority of the California State Legislature. But its very introduction does indeed send a “strong signal” that given the chance, gun controllers would end lawful firearm sales entirely.
The NRA, for its part, doesn’t intend to give them that chance and will oppose this and any other legislation that seeks to cripple the industries that serve America’s law-abiding gun owners.