February 20, 2013

Biggest U.S. public pension fund to sell its gun stocks

Los Angeles Times

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The nation's biggest public pension fund is taking a stand against gun violence by voting to sell all its investments in two firearms makers: Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. and Sturm, Ruger & Co.

On Tuesday, the Investment Committee of the California Public Employees' Retirement System, or CalPERS, voted to sell about $5 million worth of the gun makers' stock and other securities. The full CalPERS board, which has the same 13 members as the Investment Committee, is expected to ratify the vote Wednesday.

Some of the two companies' products – particularly assault weapons and cheap handguns, known as "Saturday night specials" – are illegal in California.

They "present a significant danger to the health, safety and lives of California residents, including our members, no matter where such weapons are sold or trafficked in the United States," read the motion approved by the CalPERS board's Investment Committee.

Representatives of Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the CalPERS vote.

Sale of the stock should not affect the financial health of CalPERS' $254 billion investment portfolio, staff said in a report to the board.

The move to divest gun securities was the second by a California public pension fund since the December massacre of 20 schoolchildren and six adults in Newtown, Conn. Last month, the $154 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System, the country's second-largest government retirement plan, took a similar action.

The divestment actions by the two California pension funds are expected to encourage other large government employee pensions to sell their gun securities. Funds in Chicago, New York state, New York City, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have said they're exploring such divestments.

 

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