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Wall Street could be changing tune on guns

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Wall Street could be changing tune on guns

Last week’s mass shooting at a high school in Florida has caused a ripple effect across the financial community, with investors skeptical than ever before about the firearms industry, Bloomberg News reports.

An analysis from the news organization found that investors have dumped shares of gun companies while others have attempted to exert pressure from within the industry to force a reaction to last week’s shooting that killed 17 people and wounded others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Bloomberg reports that an increasing number of pension funds and municipalities are demanding that their stock portfolios exclude companies that manufacture or sell firearms, a style of activist investing that could have a major effect on the firearm industry if other investors don’t rise to take their place.

Other investors have attempted to force companies that manufacture or sell firearms to respond to last week’s shooting, demanding changes in the industry to promote public safety.

On Thursday, the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock announced it would speak with gun manufacturers to understand their response to mass shootings, prompted by the Parkland shooting.

“Given our inability to sell shares of a company in an index, even if we disagree with management, we focus on engaging with the company and understanding how they are responding to society’s expectations of them,” BlackRock spokesman Ed Sweeney told Bloomberg.

“We will be engaging with weapons manufacturers and distributors to understand their response to recent events.”

Proposals at three major companies, Dick’s Sporting Goods, American Outdoor Brands Corp. (which manufactures Smith and Wesson firearms), Sturm Ruger & Co. would force the companies to report on how they are taking steps to improve firearm safety and mitigate harm caused by their weapons.

The news comes on the heels of other major financial news regarding the gun industry. 

Earlier Friday, top car rental companies announced they would end their discount programs for National Rifle Association (NRA) members, while on Thursday the largest privately held bank in the United States, the First National Bank of Omaha, announced it would end its business relationship with the NRA.

“Customer feedback has caused us to review our relationship with the NRA,” the bank wrote. “As a result, First National Bank of Omaha will not renew its contract with the National Rifle Association to issue the NRA Visa Card.” 

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