Teachers Federation Calls Out Gun Investors

Group releases list of asset managers investing in assault weapon manufacturers.

The American Federation of Teachers has released a report that creates a watch list of asset managers that invest in companies that make assault weapons.

The federation released a special edition of its “Ranking Asset Managers” report, which offers information for pension fund trustees, and calls on asset managers to evaluate risks associated with investing in gun manufacturers, and to adopt policies that lessen the safety risks of assault weapons.

“Educators have a right to assume their deferred wages are not being invested in the companies that make the military-style assault weapons used to injure and kill them and their students in countless school shootings,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten in a release. “This report is about exposing that risk and providing pension trustees and investment managers with the tools they need to demand meaningful action.”

The report highlights actions some pension funds have already taken to reduce their risk exposure to assault weapons makers. It also creates a list of specific steps pension funds and financial institutions can take to mitigate their risks, such as signing a gun safety code of conduct, and limiting or putting stricter stipulations on their relationships with gun manufacturers.

The report identifies financial institutions and public pension systems that have taken steps toward engaging with weapons manufacturers, but also names financial institutions and public pensions that have not acted on the matter.

Citigroup, Bank of America, Fidelity, Vanguard, BlackRock, State Street, and Amalgamated Bank were praised for steps they have taken, such as talking to gun manufacturers about investors’ concerns, or adopting codes of conduct putting certain requirements on gun makers, as was Trillium Asset Management for not investing in gun manufacturers. 

At the same time, the report outed private equity asset managers that own gun manufacturers, including Cerberus Capital Management and Sciens Capital Management, and cited publicly traded companies that manufacture assault weapons, such as American Outdoors Brands, Vista Outdoor, and Sturm, Ruger & Co.

The federation said it has tried with no success to get Wells Fargo to meet with the group and said Invesco Advisers was the only company that didn’t respond to a request for comment on engaging manufacturers on firearm-related risks.

The report also acknowledged efforts by the state retirement systems of California and New York for pushing their pension funds to engage with or divest from gun manufacturers, while scolding Florida’s public employee retirement system for investing in all three publicly traded gunmakers.

“When companies produce products, like assault rifles, that create a national public health and safety crisis, the societal impact creates financial risk for investors,” said the report. “It is well within a public pension trustee’s scope of fiduciary responsibility to consider the legitimate risks—financial and headline—from the ownership of gun manufacturer shares and to consider whether to divest.”

Tags: , ,