Bill aims to stop discrimination against firearm industry

Feb. 2, 2024, 9 a.m. ·

The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee heard testimony on the Firearm Industry Nondiscrimination Act Thursday afternoon. (Photo by Brian Beach/Nebraska Public Media News)

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The Firearm Industry Nondiscrimination Act, put forward by Sen. Ray Aguilar, would prohibit state and local government entities from entering into a contract with a company that has a policy of discriminating against the firearm industry.

Steve Hornady, president of Hornady Manufacturing, an ammunition company based in Grand Island, testified at Thursday’s legislative hearing on the bill.

He said he was unable to find an insurance policy for his company after placing more than 20 bids and believes it was due to his company’s connection with the firearm industry as an ammunition manufacturer.

Several firearm industry advocates, including John Heaston with the Nebraska Sportsmen’s Foundation, testified that companies may have the right to discriminate, but that the public should be required to know about it.

“Targeting specific companies or groups based on the premise of guilt by association is an unfair use of those first amendment rights,” he said. “Asking those groups to be identified will help government industry and the general public to know who they're interacting with.”

Robert Bell with the Nebraska Insurance Federation also spoke at the hearing. He said the bill may be confusing risk with discrimination.

“We don't have a policy of discrimination,” Bell said. “It's this perceived notion that financial considerations are somehow discriminatory against the firearms industry, when many, many businesses in the state of Nebraska are having a difficult time securing commercial property insurance right now.”

The Nebraska Bankers Association also testified against the bill, citing similar legislation passed in Texas and Oklahoma that resulted in significant costs to taxpayers.