On Tuesday, New York City’s largest pension fund voted to move forward with potential divestment from gun sellers. The New York City Employee Retirement System (NYCERS) board passed a resolution to research the impact of abandoning stocks from weapon retailers such as Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Cabela’s. The measure was sponsored by Public Advocate Letitia James. Next, a consultant will conduct an analysis of the costs and benefits involved in discarding the stock. The pension fund has already divested from gun manufacturers.
James has focused much of her attention on Walmart, the nation’s largest gun retailer. “Our nation continues to bleed from mass shootings, and we have to get guns off our streets and off department store shelves,” she said.
New York City is on the verge of following in the footsteps of California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), which is akin to following someone over a cliff. CalPERS investment strategy is reportedly not one the wise investor would want to duplicate. And, the decline apparently began after “socially responsible” investing practices were implemented.
Eventually, socially responsible investing led CalPERS to the decision to divest its pensions from any company associated with the production, sale or marketing of assault weapons. “We are sending a clear signal that Los Angeles supports a ban on assault weapons and that the second-largest city in the nation will not use its resources to fund these dangerous weapons,” LA Councilwoman Jan Perry, who introduced the motion, stated on her blog.
Similarly, in June the largest teachers pension fund in the world, The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (Calstrs), announced its plans to end its indirect investment in Remington Outdoor, which is owned by Cerberus Capital Management.
Adding pop culture to the mix, in March Snoop Dogg, Aloe Blacc and Jhené Aiko joined with other celebrities to launch the #ImUnloading campaign. Participants have been asking the public to remove their 401K investments from the gun industry. All HipHop reports:
“Unload Your 401K teamed with No Guns Allowed to launch the campaign. Snoop has been working with the anti-violence movement around the country. The Doggystyle album creator also released a song titled ‘No Guns Allowed’ featuring Drake and Cori B.
‘How I’ve been affected by gun violence over the years is through deaths of friends and family members and associates,’ states Snoop in a public service announcement for the campaign. ‘I’m unloading for the loved ones that I’ve lost.’”
While the motivation of these celebrities to save lives is honorable, what they fail to consider is how often guns save lives. After all, guns save more lives than they take. Firearms are used approximately 2.5 million times a year in self-defense. What this means is every year guns are used more than 80 times more often to protect the lives of law-abiding citizens than to take lives. So, if they really want to save lives, they need to put aside ideology and politics and get acquainted with the facts.