Warren Calls on Institutional Investors to Encourage More Responsible Action by Gun Manufacturers
Investors That Benefit from Gun Sales Should Use Financial Leverage to Reduce Risk of Gun Violence
Washington, DC - In the wake of the Parkland, Florida mass shooting, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today sent letters to nine major gun company shareholders calling on them to use their financial leverage to ensure that the companies they invest in are taking steps to reduce gun violence. Since the start of 2018, there have been 34 mass shootings across the country.
On February 14, 2018, a 19-year old gunman opened fire on students, teachers, and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people and injuring at least 14 others. The gunman used an AR-15 rifle - the same style of weapon used to kill dozens in the Newtown, San Bernardino, Orlando, Sutherland Springs, and Las Vegas mass shootings.
The AR-15 rifle used in the Parkland mass shooting is manufactured by Smith & Wesson, a subsidiary of the publicly traded American Outdoor Brands Corporation (AOBC). Senator Warren wrote to several companies with large stakes in AOBC and gun manufacturers Sturm, Ruger & Company and Vista Outdoors - noting that these shareholders directly benefit from the sales of these weapons and "stock prices of gun makers often rise after mass shootings."
"Your company is in a powerful position. You have reaped significant benefits from your investment in gun manufacturers, but have done little to reduce the violence and murders caused by their products," wrote Senator Warren. "I encourage you take action to ensure that the gun companies in which you invest are taking steps to reduce gun violence."
Gun companies can establish tougher self-regulation, asking retail outlets that sell their products to impose their own requirements such as higher minimum age requirements for purchase of weapons, or requiring waiting periods prior to purchase. They can also direct company research towards the development of safer weapons and violence reduction. None of these steps would substitute action by the federal government but each would help reduce gun violence.
Reportedly, BlackRock has said it will "speak with weapons manufacturers and distributors ‘to understand their response'" to the Parkland shooting. This is a positive step, but having conversations is simply not enough.
Senator Warren urged these nine major shareholders - the five largest stakeholders of each of the three publicly traded gun firms - to use their vast investments to encourage gun manufacturers to act in a more responsible fashion:
• Laurence D. Fink, Chairman & CEO of BlackRock. BlackRock holds the single largest stake in AOBC and the single largest shareholder in Sturm, Ruger & Company. [Link to letter]
• Gregory McGreevey, President & Chief Executive Officer, Invesco Advisers Inc. Invesco holds the second largest stake in AOBC and the seventh largest stake in Sturm & Ruger. [Link to letter]
• Mortimer J. Buckley, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vanguard Group. Vanguard holds the third largest stake in AOBC, the second largest stake in Sturm & Ruger, and the third largest stake in Vista Outdoors. [Link to letter]
• Josef Lakonishok, CEO of LSV Asset Management. LSV holds the fourth largest stake in AOBC. [Link to letter]
• David Booth, Executive Chairman, Dimensional Fund Advisers, Inc. Dimensional Fund Advisers holds the fifth largest stake in AOBC and Vista Outdoors, and the sixth largest stake in Sturm & Ruger. [Link to letter]
• Michael A. Bell, Director, Chief Financial Officer, and Managing Director, Voya Investment Management Company. Voya is the sixth largest stakeholder in AOBC and the fifth largest stakeholder in Sturm & Ruger. [Link to letter]
• Stephen M. Goddard, Managing Director, the London Company of Virginia. The London Company is the fourth largest shareholder in Sturm & Ruger, and has a large stake in AOBC. [Link to letter]
• Abigail P. Johnson, Chief Executive Officer, Fidelity Investments. Fidelity holds the single largest stake in Vista Outdoors. [Link to letter]
• Mehdi Mahmud, President and Chief Executive Officer, First Eagle Investment Management Company. First Eagle holds the fourth largest stake in Vista Outdoors. [Link to letter]
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