After securing divestment measures at their respective pension funds, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer are urging the rest of the nation’s leading pension funds to take action against gun manufacturers. In a joint-letter to the nation’s 55 largest public pension funds in 39 states valued at $1.9 trillion in assets, de Blasio and Lockyer applauded successful actions in New York, California, Philadelphia and Chicago against manufacturers of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips for civilians. They urged all the funds to take similar steps in the wake of the Newtown shootings.
De Blasio and Lockyer urged, “Divesting from companies that manufacture these dangerous products protects our portfolios, our employees and retirees, our families and our children.”
“Public pension funds are the catalyst for this national movement. These divestment actions are more than just symbolic—they can change the way gun companies do business,” said Public Advocate de Blasio.
“Divesting from the makers of these firearm products keeps faith with pension trustees’ duty to retirees and members by avoiding the increasing investment risk posed by the companies,” said Treasurer Lockyer. “And it’s the one action public pension funds can take to fight the weapons’ threat to the health and safety of our communities.”
Read the letter:
February 27, 2013
Dear Fellow Pension Trustees:
The horrific mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut was a wake-up call for our nation, and underscored a growing epidemic of gun violence that threatens every American. In New York City and California, we have initiated the process of divesting our public pension fund holdings in companies that manufacture military-grade assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines for sale on the civilian market. In recent weeks, other public pension funds, including the Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement and Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund, have initiated similar processes. We urge you to join this growing movement.
Our nation's state and local public-employee retirement systems oversee more than $3 trillion in total cash and investment holdings, placing them among the largest institutional investors in the world. As pension fund trustees, we have a fiduciary responsibility to consider the long-term sustainability of companies in which we invest. The increased potential liability for gun manufacturers, and gun companies’ links to recent tragedies, make investments in firearms manufacturers a poor investment decision. Increased regulation and possible litigation against these gun manufacturers could well have an adverse effect on pension funds invested in the sector. In light of these risks, we believe divestment from these companies is both prudent and necessary.
Moreover, as we review our investments, we must remember our duties as public servants and trustees. Just as we have a duty as responsible investors to avoid undue risk in our investments, we also have a duty to invest in sectors that are not inflicting damage to our communities. Divesting from the makers of military grade assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines helps make our communities safer. In short, divesting from companies that manufacture these dangerous products protects our portfolios, our employees and retirees, our families and our children.
Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.
Bill de Blasio
Public Advocate for the City of New York
Treasurer for the State of California