Continuing the anti-gun movement sweeping the nation, New Jersey’s $76.7 billion pension system has sold off all investments in a semi-automatic rifle manufacturer.
Following a bi-monthly meeting, the State Investment Council revealed this week that it had unloaded a $1.9 million stake in Vista Outdoor, maker of semi-automatic weapons.
“After the tragedy in Parkland, we examined our holdings to identify companies which might be adversely financially impacted by a changing landscape as it relates to certain types of firearms,” Chris McDonough, director of the state Department of the Treasury’s Division of Investment, said in a statement.
Vista Outdoor was the only holding the agency found that manufactures semi-automatic or automatic weapons for civilian use, he said. The state had already been reducing the position over time. Then, he added, “consistent with our fiduciary responsibility, we recently sold our remaining position based on the merits of the investment.”
The council also decided it will seek further actions related to civilian firearm makers and retailers through its recently created group that focuses on environment, social, and governance questions.
Acting state Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio commended the decision, calling it a “wise investment strategy.”
This action is in tune with a recent bill introduced in the state legislature that calls for a ban on investments with guns and ammunition companies, requiring the state to divest existing holdings within two years. New Jersey still has about $35 million in gun stocks, including more than 40,000 shares in American Outdoor Brands (formerly Smith & Wesson Holding). The $1.9 million Vista Outdoor divestment is the first of several sales planned for firearms shares.
Plans for the remaining shares have not yet been announced, but other pension funds, including California’s CalPERS and CalSTRS, Massachusetts’ Pension Reserves Investment Management, and the Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds have also been under scrutiny from their state investment committees and treasurers to divest from their firearms allocations.
Such actions are in direct response to the shooting which took place at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day, where 17 people were killed by a gunman using a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle.