In recent years Wall Street firms have come 'under fire' for investing retirement and pension funds in companies like American Outdoor Brands, which makes the rifle responsible for the Parkland shooting. However, after the latest mass shooting, it appears corporate America is finally responding.
It began with New Jersey lawmakers moving to restrict all state employee pensions funds from being invested in gun manufacturers. Then shareholders at American Outdoor Brands, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Sturm Ruger asked those companies to report on what steps they are taking to improve gun safety and mitigate gun violence. In response Dicks Sporting Goods announced they would stop selling assault rifles, and raise the minimum age to purchase a gun from 18 to 21. Walmart also announced it would increase the minimum age to 21.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) in particular has been affected by this shift in public opinion. A few days after the latest shooting, numerous firms had ended their discounts for NRA members, including Delta and United, two airlines; MetLife, an insurer; Symantec, an antivirus software firm; and Avis Budget Group, Hertz and Enterprise Holdings, the country’s three largest car rental firms. Also “NRA Carry Guard”, an insurance policy meant for NRA members to cover their legal costs in shooting cases, was dropped both by Chubb, the insurer underwriting it (the decision was made months ago, but only announced now) and Lockton, the broker managing it.
Pressure has been mounting for several years around removing gun stocks. This has been largely driven by a grassroots movement which is encouraging ordinary consumers to divest from gun stocks, and to invest their retirement funds in a more ethical manner, in the hope of encouraging companies to address their own investment portfolios leading to a broader political change. According to a 2016 US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment report, $845 billion in assets were affected by divestment targeting military contractors and weapons makers. How much of a difference will divestment and company actions relating to NRA membership make to gun control?