Sr. Judy Byron’s Statement at Smith & Wesson AGM

 Monday, September 27th 2021

 

Good afternoon, Mr. Smith and shareholders of Smith & Wesson. I am Sr. Judy Byron, here representing the Adrian Dominican Sisters and 14 co-filers who are members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. We ask for your support for proposal number #5 requesting that our company develop a human rights policy to help it mitigate human rights risks throughout its operations and supply chain and through its sales of firearms to civilians. 

You may recall that a number of us put forward a proposal in 2018 requesting a report on gun safety. Over 60% of you saw fit to pass that proposal and we’re grateful for your support. This year’s proposal is nearly identical to one we submitted for the proxy in 2019 which more than one-third of you supported. We re-filed this proposal in 2020 but offered to withdraw it in exchange for a conversation with management where we could in good faith work towards the common goal of making our business safer – safer for our company which is already facing multiple lawsuits and safer for the public including our children, who are too often the victims of gun violence. Unfortunately, the provisions management insisted on for that conversation were so onerous we were left no option but to rescind our offer. And here we are, forced once again to invoke the proxy process. I assure you, this is not our preferred method of engagement. In fact, we were able to convene a very cordial and productive dialogue with team members at Sturm Ruger last year. These conversations build trust and a desire to achieve a common understanding. 

We have never attempted to conceal our deep concern about the devastating toll of gun violence in our communities, nor the fact that we are proponents of gun safety including a tightening of regulations that would prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands. The majority of us are people of faith, some of us school teachers and health professionals. I expect that you are as troubled as we are when another gun violence event occurs, particularly one involving a Smith & Wesson firearm. Our advocacy on gun safety has been characterized by S&W management as a ruse whose real intention is to put the company out of business and to abolish the second amendment. We have always said this is not our agenda. Again, we seek to make the business, the products and the consumers who buy them, safer. We seek - as everyone here must surely do - to save lives. 

Undisputedly something must be done about the misuse of guns in our country. As a leading firearms manufacturer we genuinely believe Smith & Wesson has the knowledge and the expertise to engineer the solutions we need to reduce gun violence and save lives. 

In conclusion, a human rights policy would help Smith and Wesson demonstrate that it is neither tone deaf or callous to the cries for change and for the solutions to gun violence we so desperately need. 

Once again we ask our fellow shareholders to vote YES for proposal #5. It will be a vote in favor of positive and much needed change. Thank you.

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