October 2017 - Volume 15, Issue 4
Shareholders End Silence on Gun Violence

A study by researchers at Harvard and Northeastern Universities estimates that Americans own 265 million guns, more than one gun for every adult. Should it surprise us, then, that more than 50,000 incidents of gun violence were reported in the U.S. in 2016?

The right to bear arms for recreation, self-protection, and work is a cherished part of the U.S. heritage. However, because guns can also be used to injure and kill, they pose a serious threat to the safety and health of the American public.

In her July 15, 2013, blog for the Public Health Institute (PHI), Carolyn Newbergh noted that gun violence experts at a PHI web forum suggested that gun violence be treated through a public health approach, including more studies and policy change. This approach has worked for other public health concerns such as smoking.

Faith-based investors, including the Adrian Dominican Sisters, are joining a growing number of public health experts, gun owners, state and city governments, and citizens who believe they can do something about gun violence if gun rights and gun control advocates work with them on this often polarizing issue. Together, the groups could seek to understand the crisis the U.S. faces, realize that they share the goal of safety and of saving lives, and find solutions to gun violence.

Sister Judy Byron, OP, a consultant for the Adrian Dominican Sisters on corporate responsibility issues, has convened a Gun Violence Member Group at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR).

While most faith-based investors have a policy against owning stocks in gun companies, the Adrian Dominicans and more than 20 other ICCR members have purchased a minimum number of shares in gun manufacturers ----  American Outdoor Brands (Smith & Wesson) and Sturm, Ruger & Co.  ----  and gun retailer Dick's Sporting Goods to engage these companies regarding the positive role they can play in ending the epidemic of gun violence.

In July, the group wrote to the companies to raise concerns and to ask for dialogue. If the companies do not respond to this invitation, the group will file shareholder resolutions in 2018.

As shareholders, we view gun violence as a public health issue, a significant social policy issue, and a human rights issue ----  all of which compel us as Dominicans to follow the directive of our sister, Catherine of Siena, who said, "Cry out as if you had a million voices. It is silence that kills."

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