In the aftermath of the horrific shooting in Uvalde, Texas at Robb Elementary School that killed 19 students and two teachers, State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg calls for the Massachusetts Legislature to pass legislation requiring the stateâ€™s $101.5 billion pension fund to divest approximately $2 million from companies that manufacture and distribute guns and ammunition for civilian use.
The proposed legislation would require the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board, which oversees the pension fund, to sell, redeem, divest, or withdraw all publicly traded securities from any ammunition, firearm and firearm accessory manufacturing companies that derive 15% or more of their revenues from the sale or manufacture of ammunition, firearms, or firearm accessories for civilian purposes. The companies impacted would be Ammo Inc, Smith & Wesson, Sturm Ruger, and Vista Outdoors, Inc.
The PRIM Board can only divest as a directive from the Massachusetts Legislature. Similar to the recent bill passed by legislators in support of divesting from Russian companies in the wake of the war with Ukraine, the Legislature has the opportunity to pass the proposed divestment language. This action will send the strong message that Massachusetts will not continue to finance preventable gun violence.
â€œIt is unacceptable that we as a country continue to live in a seemingly endless cycle of gun violence,â€ said Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg, Chair of PRIM. â€œTraditional approaches are not working, and we must do what we can to potentially save lives. I implore the Legislature to support the divestment of our public pension funds from gun and ammunition manufacturers and distributors in support of the American people who are victims and survivors of preventable gun violence, just as we did recently by divesting from companies in Russia following their invasion of Ukraine.â€
In 2018, Treasurer Goldberg issued the same recommendation to the legislature following the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida at Stoneman Douglas High School that killed 17 people and injured 17 more, but the bill did not receive enough legislative support to require PRIM to divest. However, since 2018, PRIM independently sold $4 million in shareholdings from gun and ammunition manufacturers and distributors.
In the past, PRIM has been directed to divest from companies that derived much of its revenue from tobacco and companies doing business with Sudan, Northern Ireland, and Iran due to regional conflicts.
John Rosenthal, President of Meredith Management Corporation and renowned advocate for gun violence prevention as co-founder of Stop Handgun Violence, is currently supporting legislation in alignment with Treasurer Goldbergâ€™s gun divestment initiative that prohibits the manufacturing of assault weapons in Massachusetts. The sale and ownership of the same weapons is currently banned in the Commonwealth. However, assault weapons continue to be manufactured in Massachusetts and sold in other states making mass shootings more prevalent across the country.
â€œI applaud Treasurer Goldberg for her strong and courageous leadership in proposing divestiture from the uniquely unregulated gun industry,â€ said John Rosenthal. â€œLast year alone over 45,000 Americans died from firearms and today and every day over 100 more Americans will die and there will be a mass shooting of four or more people. Urban Massachusetts has enacted the most effective gun laws and regulations, has reduced the rate of gun deaths by 40% since 1994, and along with Hawaii, has the lowest gun death rate in the nation. Divestiture from the gun industry combined with our strong bipartisan leadership in the Commonwealth will absolutely help save lives from preventable gun injuries and death here and around the country.â€
Since the tragedy in Uvalde, Rosenthal says that there have been seventeen mass shootings killing at least fifteen and wounding over seventy people. Additionally, there have been at least 215 mass shootings of four or more people so far this year. According to Everytown Research and Policy, in an average year, gun violence in America kills nearly 40,000 people, injures more than twice as many, and costs our nation $280 billion.
Several events and rallies to advocate for legislation to prevent gun violence are planned in Massachusetts this month. Additionally, the first Friday in June is recognized annually in the United States as National Gun Violence Awareness Day, with the days following acknowledged as Wear Orange Weekend.
Under the leadership of Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg, the Massachusetts State Treasury is comprised of 13 departments and agencies that serve the public through the Office of the State Treasurer and Receiver General. The Treasury is committed to embracing cutting-edge technology, implementing practical business strategies, and developing public-private partnerships to ensure economic stability, security, and opportunity for every Massachusetts resident. Treasurer Goldberg is the former President of the National Association of State Treasurers and is the Co-Chair of the National Institute of Public Finance. Visit MassTreasury.org to learn more and follow along on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.