The CDC reports that 40,000 people died from firearms in the U. S. in 2017 - that translates to around 110 people per day - of which 60% are suicides and roughly 37% are homicides. While legislators seek to push gun reform bills through Congress and victims of mass shootings bring lawsuits agaist gun makers, ICCR members began pressing both American Outdoor Brands (parent company of Smith & Wesson) and Sturm Ruger, two of the nation's leading gun manufacturers to review their businesses to learn what they might change in order to curb firearm misuse. While many religious organization have investment guidelines that screen out weapons manufacturers, our members purchased stock in these companies in order to open dialogues with management around the role companies can play in helping to curb gun violence.
Then came the Valentine's Day shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, when 17 students and teachers lost their lives, triggering a nationwide student movement against gun violence.
ICCR member Mercy Investment Services used the resolution it filed in late 2017, at Dick's Sporting Goods to open a discussion with the company about the clear business and moral case for immediate corporate action. The resolution was withdrawn following a productive dialogue with company management. Subsequently, Dick's agreed to stop selling assault-style weapons at its Field & Stream stores, and raised the minimum age of gun purchasers to 21.
On March 27, we released an Investor Statement on Gun Violence, identifying 13 actions companies can adopt to reduce the risk of gun violence, many of them taken/adapted from the Sandy Hook Principles. The statement was endorsed by 142 investors representing US$634 billion in managed assets.
In valdation of the level of investor concern around this issue, a resolution at gun maker Sturm Ruger requesting a details on company activities to make it's products safer garnered nearly 70% support at the annual meeting on May 9th. You can read our press release here. A similar proposal at American Outdoor Brands Company is scheduled to go to a vote on September 25th. To read our exempt solicitation encouraging investors to vote YES in support of proposal #4 on the proxy, click here.
What Investors are Saying
Sr. Judy Byron, OP representing the Sisters of the Holy Names, lead filer of the resolution at American Outdoor Brands, said, “For almost 300 years Catholic Sisters have educated and nurtured our children in the safety of our schools. Today we chose to hold shares in American Outdoor Brands and Sturm Ruger so that we could engage them in dialogue on the critical role they can play in addressing the epidemic of gun violence in our country, and sadly in our schools."
Adam Kanzer of Domini Impact Investments said “The bravery and eloquence of the Parkland students has brought us to a tipping point on this issue. Today, we are asking investors and corporations large and small to take a hard look at their connections to gun violence and do what they can to restore peace and safety to our communities. We hope that our recommendations will serve as a blueprint for these actions.”
Colleen Scanlon of Catholic Health Initiatives who filed a resolution at gun manufacturer Sturm Ruger said, “As a large national health system, we see the devastating impact of gun violence in our hospitals on a daily basis. Comprehensive efforts to focus on gun safety should be a top priority for this nation. We believe manufacturers of guns must be part of the solution and for that reason we will continue to seek a productive dialogue with Sturm Ruger.”
Mark A. Regier of Everence, said, "ICCR members have a long history of addressing violence in our society through many, diverse corporate connections. Moving the conversation on gun violence beyond the manufacturers and retailers is a critical next step. We recognize those companies who have already begun to address the rising risks a culture of gun violence poses and look forward to working with others in the weeks ahead."
Responsible Corporate Policies
ICCR members first tackled the issue of gun violence in 1994, when they filed a shareholder resolution with Walmart and Kmart, asking both retailers to review their firearms sales policies and procedures. In 2001 investors turned their attention to Sturm Ruger, filing resolutions on gun safety in 2001 and again in 2002.