Kansas Legislature considers anti-discrimination protections for gun dealers

Kansas lawmakers will consider legislation this year to extend anti-discrimination protections to gun dealers and manufacturers, and ultimately make it illegal to refuse to serve or otherwise discriminate against those companies.

The Kansas Firearms Nondiscrimination Act — Senate Bill 331 — is sponsored by Sen. Jacob LaTurner, the Republican from Pittsburg who sponsored 2015’s constitutional carry legislation that became state law as of last July.

The measure is in response to the U.S. Justice Department’s “Operation Choke Point,” an initiative intended to cut off access to the banking industry for fraudulent businesses, The Wichita Eagle reported.  However, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation listed gun and ammo dealers as being at high risk for fraud, and gun rights supporters say that has encouraged banks to cut ties with firearm-related businesses.

“You’ve seen President Obama using his Justice Department to target companies engaged in the firearm industry. This is intended to give these folks an avenue to push back,” LaTurner told the newspaper.

According to the bill text, this law would allow anyone “engaged in the lawful commerce of firearms or ammunition” to file civil discrimination suits in cases where banks or other businesses sever ties or refuse to perform services for licensed gun dealers.

LaTurner’s measure was scheduled for its first hearing Thursday morning at 10:30 in the Kansas Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs, but no information was available as to the bill’s status yet later that day.

On the national level, Democrats in Congress have introduced legislation to do away with the legal protections firearm manufacturers and distributors have against being sued by the victims of gun violence.

The Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act would increase firearms companies exposure to lawsuits and allow the families of gun victims the opportunity to seek relief for injuries received.