Gun Divestment Bill Introduced in Massachusetts Legislature

State pensions have a history of “talking with their feet” in a show of activism against undesirable products or actions.

A bill was filed with the Massachusetts Legislature that would require the state’s public pension fund to divest from companies that manufacture guns and ammunition.

“Divesting our public pension funds from gun and ammunition manufacturers sends a clear message that we stand with the victims and survivors of gun violence everywhere,” said State Treasurer Deb Goldberg in a statement.

“As gun violence tears at the fabric of our nation and Congress is unable to act even in the face of overwhelming support, it is time for state stewards to ensure our retirement savings and pension funds are not profiting from that violence,” said State Representative Lori Ehrlich, a co-sponsor of the bill.

Bill HD.4656 will ensure that the Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board will sell, redeem, divest or withdraw all publicly-traded securities from any ammunition, firearm and firearm accessory manufacturing companies that derive 15% or more of their revenues from the sale or manufacture of ammunition, firearms or firearm accessories for civilian purposes.

State pensions, including that of Massachusetts, have a history of “talking with their feet” in a show of activism against undesirable products or actions—being directed to divest from companies that derived much of its revenue from tobacco and companies doing business with Sudan, Northern Ireland and Iran due to regional conflicts.

Earlier this month, in response to the latest in a long series of mass shooting incidents impacting communities across the United States, Connecticut State Treasurer Denise Nappier announced the state will significantly step up its shareholder activism with respect to its ownership of stock in firearm manufacturers.