Gunmaker Sturm, Ruger & Company Inc. will examine the human rights impact of selling thousands of guns a year, thanks to a nun-backed shareholder proposal.
Company officials announced at the June 1 annual meeting of shareholders that a shareholder resolution calling for a third-party human rights impact assessment had been approved over the company’s objections. , which is based in Connecticut and has production facilities in the United States.
North Carolina’s Winston-Salem Journal reported on June 6 that the company disclosed in a regulatory filing that 68% of the company’s 11.5 million shareholders voted to approve the resolution.
The meeting came eight days after 19 children and two teachers were killed in a May 24 mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
The lead sponsor of the resolution was CommonSpirit Health, a Chicago-based Catholic healthcare system that is a ministry sponsored by 17 congregations of nuns.
“We refuse to believe that there is nothing we can do to reduce gun violence,” CommonSpirit’s Laura Krausa said in a statement released by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Accountability, several of whose co-registrants are members. “We know we can find common ground on common sense approaches that respect the right to own a firearm, as well as the obligation to help keep our neighbors safe and healthy in the face of this epidemic of gun violence.”
Among the co-registrants was the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, a group of 10 congregations of women religious and other members.
“It is very encouraging that 68% of shareholders supported him. This means major investors have supported the resolution,” said Sister Judy Byron, director of the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment and member of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, which belongs to the coalition. Sister Byron is also the lead filer on a similar resolution that Smith & Wesson will consider in September.
Support from major investors angered Ruger officers. Christopher Killoy, chairman and chief executive of Ruger, called supporters of the measure “anti-gun activists” and said its passage was “largely due to the support of institutional shareholders, many of whom have even refused to talk to us, and others who blindly followed the advice of ISS (Institutional Shareholder Services) or Glass Lewis,” Reuters reported.
ISS and Glass Lewis are proxy advisory firms that provide institutional investors with research and data.
Sister Byron noted that the company could choose not to report on the impact of gun sales, but CNBC reported that Killoy said it would be done.
“Shareholders have spoken,” he said, according to CNBC. But, he added, the winning proposal “cannot force us to change our business” and “cannot change what Ruger is and what we stand for”.
The resolutions are not binding, but if 68% of your shareholders are asking you to do something, it looks like you should do it,” Sister Byron told Global Sisters Report. “It’s telling that people are rightly concerned about gun violence. Weapons manufacturers must be part of this discussion.
Co-registrant Mercy Investment Services noted that it makes sense for a company to assess its risks and the impact of its products.
“Any industry that produces a product that ends more than 110 lives a day and is the leading cause of death in children and adolescents should be prepared to take a hard look at its role in this public health epidemic,” Lydia Kuykendal of Mercy Investment Services said in the statement from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Accountability.
“An independent and robust human rights impact assessment will help uncover risks to the business and investors, which we hope will lead to measurable steps to address gun violence in this country,” she said. “If, as they claim, Sturm Ruger is interested in being part of the solution, they should welcome this vote and move immediately to implement it.”
The Winston-Salem Journal reported that the shareholder resolution followed a similar decision in 2018, when a group of filers led by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary of Marylhurst, Oregon, won a resolution for the Ruger company. council to report on its gun safety activities.
The majority shareholder vote was a victory, but CommonSpirit found the 38-page PowerPoint the board produced a year later so disappointing that it cited the report as evidence of the need for an assessment. impact on human rights.
The 2019 report “did not offer meaningful solutions to address gun violence,” the 2022 resolution said, according to Reuters.
Ruger reported in February that it had $730.7 million in gun sales in 2021, up from $568.9 million in sales the previous year. This led to net income of $156 million, compared to $90 million in 2020.
Stockman is national correspondent for Global Sisters Report.
Read more Respect life
Copyright © 2022 Catholic News Service/United States Conference of Catholic Bishops