Connecticut’s treasurer announces plan to divest from gunmakers

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Connecticut’s treasurer, who oversees $37 billion in public pension funds, announced plans Tuesday to reallocate $30 million worth of shares in civilian firearm manufacturer securities while banning similar future investments and creating incentives for banks and financial institutions to enact gun-related policies.

If ultimately approved by an advisory board, it will mark the first time Connecticut has taken the step of divesting shares in firearm-related companies since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, which left 20 small children and six educators dead.

"In simple terms, money talks, and I want our policy to speak loud and clear,” says state Treasurer Shawn Wooden.

If state regulators approve, the plans will take effect in February. Connecticut will sell its interest in five companies, including the owners of Winchester and Federal Firearms.

The state is also selling its stake in ammunition and scope makers.

Janet Rice, who lost her son Oliver to gun violence in Hartford in 2012, applauded the move.

"Leadership takes many forms,” she said. “…I want to thank State Treasurer Shawn Wooden for standing up and doing something."

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The National Shooting Sports Foundation – the nation's biggest gunmaker group, which is based in Newtown – called the plan “a political stunt.”

"Members of the firearms industry…have been providing real solutions for safer communities, including partnerships with law enforcement to provide over 38 million firearms safety kits to the public free of charge," says Mark Oliva, the foundation’s spokesman.

Gunmakers also pointed out that they teamed-up with Sen. Chris Murphy to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Connecticut is not alone in trying to use the power of the purse to influence the gun violence debate.

In 2018, the $222.5 billion California State Teachers’ Retirement System voted to use its financial might to pressure gun retailers to stop selling military-style assault weapons and accessories. Critics accused the board of setting a dangerous precedent.

AP Wire Services were used in this report

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