As we witnessed this week the 74th school shooting since Adam Lanza opened fire on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012 it is easy to feel overwhelmed with a sense of helplessness as to what we can do as individuals. With each school shooting it becomes less sporadic and transforms into a regular occurrence and a real fear for so many of us. We send our children to school hoping that they will be educated and now we also hope that they return home alive. JCUA works with our community partners throughout Chicagoland to address the root causes of gun violence. For example, we have been active recently with the coalition to bring a trauma center to the south side. There is currently no trauma center capable of handling gun shot victims anywhere on the south side of Chicago. In addition, to the work of addressing the systemic issues of gun violence, there is something very practical all of us can do to make an impact.
Since 2005 contributions from gun companies to the National Rifle Association (NRA) has totaled upwards of $60 million dollars. Gun companies funnel their money to fund the chief gun lobbying organization in the United States. Every gun purchase an individual makes helps strengthen the gun lobby. Yet, for those of us that do not buy guns, we also may be unwittingly funding the gun lobby. Do you know if your 401k or other retirement account invests in the gun industry? It is imperative that we divest our retirement money from the gun industry.
This week JCUA attended a workshop with the Campaign to Unload and People for a Safer Society to discuss the urgent need for all of us to divest our retirement accounts from gun companies. The Campaign to Unload has targeted three specific gun companies, three of the largest contributors to the NRA for divestment: Sturm, Roger and Co., Smith & Wesson and Olin Corporation’s Winchester Ammunition. Each of these companies are close allies of the gun lobby and have donated millions to fund those that work to block common sense gun legislation both federally and at the state level.
While contemplating the horrific loss of life every day to gun violence do not feel helpless. There is something concrete and quick you can do. Divest your retirement accounts from these companies and send a financial message that we will no longer tolerate this. As President Obama said after the latest school shooting in Oregon: “Our levels of gun violence are off the charts. There’s no advanced, developed country on Earth that would put up with this.”
2) Call your investment manager or bank and find out if your retirement accounts are invested in Sturm, Roger and Co., Smith & Wesson or Olin Corporation and ask for your money to be taken out of those companies.