A coalition of more than 20 organizations, led by Campaign to Unload and States United to Prevent Gun Violence, has launched a campaign to wipe out gun manufacturers from 401(k) portfolios.
Unloadyour401k.com was launched Wednesday. It represents a new tool and new tactic in the country’s strident debate over gun control and gun violence: individuals divesting the nation’s biggest gun manufacturers from their 401(k) retirement plans.
The campaign targets Sturm Ruger (RGR), Smith & Wesson (SWHC), and Olin (OLN). When combined, nearly half of the value of these three companies is held in individuals’ mutual funds.
The website offers a number of facts. Among them: Nearly $2 billion mutual fund dollars are invested in the nation’s three largest gun manufactures, and more than 1.4 million gun deaths and injuries have occurred since the Columbine shooting in suburban Denver.
The website allows individuals to search for their 401(k) provider to find out whether any of the gun manufacturers are held in a given retirement plan.
Perhaps the most compelling arguments for divestment are laid out in a three-minute video that features mothers and fathers whose children have been victims of gun violence and an emergency room doctor who has had to tell victims’ parents that their children have died on the operating table.
“I’m covered in blood, we’ve done everything we can do, and someone has to go tell the family,” says Dr. Sheldon Teperman in the video, a trauma surgeon. “I steal myself for this because I know when I walk into that room I’m going to snatch all of the light, all of the hope, and all of the air from that parent’s life.”
“I don’t want anybody to think there’s something they can not do,” says Tom Mauser, whose son was killed in the Columbine shooting 15 years ago. “There’s something they can do very simply.”
In a press release, Jennifer Fiore, executive director of Campaign to Unload, says that divestment from gun companies in 401(k) plans is the new front in the war against America’s epidemic of gun violence.
“It’s time to defund the companies that profit from gun violence and obstruct the political change that would end it. Over 51 million Americans have a 401(k) retirement plan that could be contributing to the gun lobby — driving wealth to gun manufacturers and funding efforts that have stalled all action in Congress.”