A coalition of investors, led by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, have made progress against gun violence. The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) along with a collection of ethical investors who hold stock in American Outdoor Brands (AOBC), successfully led shareholders to pass a non-binding resolution requesting a report by Feb. 8 detailing AOBC’s weapons connection with gun violence and to report on any attempts at producing safer guns. AOBC is the parent company of Smith & Wesson, who produce the AR-15 style rifles used in multiple mass shootings, including the shooting this year at Parkland High-school.
At Domini, we understand the power of advocacy and the need to confront gun violence. What the ICCR and Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary did was inspirational, not just because they were successful, but because they saw the opportunity that investing presents. They had the foresight to buy and hold the stocks in the companies they wanted to petition, despite disagreeing with the companies on a moral basis, so that they could have the right to file their resolution. The Sisters demonstrated that being an engaged investor is effective and essential for change, not only in the wake of tragedy.
Domini encourages shareholders to engage in direct dialogue with companies, other investors, and policy makers to enact positive change. These activist investors have also had success this past May in swaying shareholders of the firearm manufacturer Sturm Ruger in favor of a similar resolution. We applaud the coalition led by the ICCR and the Sisterhood of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary for being outspoken, proactive shareholders, and for their successful advocacy. Corporate transparency critical to addressing gun violence.
Shareholder advocacy can be an effective tool in helping to set companies’ standards, but it is not a passive or easy exercise. It is the responsibility of an engaged investor.