For Release: Thursday, April 24, 2014
Investors should unload firearm company stocks and stop funding the gun violence epidemic
Washington, DC — The NRA’s annual meeting this weekend in Indianapolis will display the growing financial and institutional links between the organization and the gun industry, from gunmaker sponsorship of many of the meeting’s activities to a celebratory brunch honoring the NRA’s million-dollar donors.
The NRA annual meeting takes place April 25 through 27. To learn more about what to expect at the meeting, read the Violence Policy Center’s backgrounder here.
The centerpiece of the meeting will be the largest gun industry trade show of new weaponry open to the public, revealing the increasing dominance of military-style assault rifles and assault pistols in the gun industry’s product line, as well as powerful compact pistols for concealed carry. The NRA’s website describes the trade show as offering “spectacular displays of firearms.”
The NRA will also use the meeting as an opportunity to honor its multi-million-dollar donors in the gun industry, known as “corporate partners.” Members of the gun industry have donated between $19.3 million and $60.2 million to the NRA since 2005, as detailed in the recent VPC study Blood Money II: How Gun Industry Dollars Fund the NRA.
At the meeting, the NRA will hold a Ring of Freedom Brunch to honor donors, including gun industry representatives, that have given a million dollars or more to the organization. Honorees are inducted into the so-called Golden Ring of Freedom and given yellow sports coats.
Last year’s inductees into the Golden Ring of Freedom included Freedom Group (now Remington Outdoor Company), the company that made the Bushmaster assault rifle used to kill 20 children and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012. Another inductee last year was Smith & Wesson, the company that manufactured the M&P pistol used at the recent shooting at Fort Hood, as well as the M&P assault rifle used in the July 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. (M&P stands for Military and Police.)
Yet while the NRA leadership celebrates the gun industry’s largesse, a growing divestment movement is asking investors to dump the stocks of firearm companies that profit from the gun violence epidemic. Investors are beginning to see the gun industry in the same light as the apartheid government of South Africa in the 1980s. Already, over $171 million has been divested from hedge funds, facilitated by the Campaign to Unload. State and local governments are also divesting, and the first university, Occidental College, has divested as well.
VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann states, “The modern NRA is a gun industry trade association masquerading as a shooting sports foundation. While the NRA honors members of the gun industry for its million-dollar donations, the rest of us face a gun violence epidemic that kills 31,000 Americans every year.”
Adds Jennifer Fiore, Executive Director of Campaign to Unload, a national divestment campaign: “Americans were horrified by the massacre of 20 small children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary, and yet the gun companies’ stock prices rose in response. It’s time to divest from the obstructionist gun industry and stop funding companies that do nothing to prevent these shootings, and in fact actively lobby to make such crimes easier.”
To read the Violence Policy Center’s backgrounder on the NRA’s annual meeting, click here:
To learn more about the divestment campaign at Campaign to Unload, click here:
The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
Campaign to Unload (http://www.campaigntounload.org) is a national coalition of 50 leaders and organizations calling for divestiture from the gun industry. Find us on Facebook and Twitter.