BlackRock to approach gunmakers as clients seek to exclude gun stocks from portfolios
The world’s largest asset manager will approach gun producing firms to “understand their response” to the U.S. school shooting problem in the wake of the attacks in Parkland Florida, at the behest of clients who no longer want their money tied into these businesses. BlackRock owns shares in firearm manufacturers including Sturm, Ruger & Co and American Outdoor Brands, whose shares rallied Thursday due to the prospect of tighter gun regulations, as often happens in the wake of major shootings in the U.S. that become global news stories.
BlackRock spokesman Ed Sweeney said: “We are working with clients who want to exclude from their portfolios weapons manufacturers or other companies that don’t align with their values.” However, BlackRock said it cannot sell shares of a company in an index, given its fiduciary responsibilities, and has not agreed to divest its funds of gun companies yet. Whatever it agrees to do, BlackRock has massive influence over these firms, as it owns 17 per cent of the total shares of Sturm Ruger and 11 of American Outdoor Brands. Any punitive measures from the firm could have a major impact.
Despite the move from BlackRock and polling numbers which indicate support for gun control is at its strongest ever in America, a Republican dominated House and Senate with a pro-NRA President at the helm means new legislation to limit weapons purchases or other measures designed to curtail these horrific events may be extremely difficult or even impossible to pass.
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