Snoop Dogg, celebs breathe new life in campaign to divest from gun companies (VIDEO)

03/13/15 10:12 AM | by

Snoop Dogg, other celebrities and tech leaders joined a movement to encourage the public to divest from gun companies.

They signed on to the Campaign to Unload, a gun control advocacy group that encourages people to divest their retirement plans with the intention of hurting the gun industry financially.

The goal is to prevent gun violence by dealing a blow to the National Rifle Association, which advocates civilian gun ownership for self defense and as a solution to fight gun violence and crime.

“There is a straight line from gun industry investment, to gun industry profits, to funding of the NRA,” said Jennifer Fiore, executive director of the campaign, in a press release. “Half the value of these companies comes from mutual funds and most of the ‘investors’ in these funds have no idea they are inadvertently part of the problem. Now they can be part of the solution.”

The NRA receives revenue from membership fees and donors, some of which are gun companies. Following the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2013, the gun industry experienced a surge year in sales and the NRA experienced a spike in memberships and revenue as well.

The NRA grossed $348 million in revenue — roughly $100 million more than 2012 — according to filings with the Internal Revenue Service. But an exact figure of how much the gun industry profited in 2013 is unknown, so the few publicly traded gun and ammo companies act as one barometer used to measure gun sales.

The Campaign to Unload estimates the American public has $1.9 billion invested in three public gun companies — Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation, Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc., and the Olin Corporation, which owns Winchester Ammunition — through mutual funds. It neglects Vista Outdoor Inc (formerly Alliant Techsystems), Colt Defense, which issues bonds regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and gun companies listed in markets overseas but are bought and traded in certain U.S. markets.

In its first run, the campaign identified Freedom Group, a gun, ammo and accessory conglomerate that has since changed its name to Remington Outdoor Company.  The company is owned by the investment company Cerberus Capital Management, which had planned to make Freedom Group a publicly traded company prior to Sandy Hook, so some past financial statements are available. And one company under the Freedom Group umbrella is Bushmaster Firearms International, which manufactured the rifle used by the gunman in the Sandy Hook shooting.

The campaign, which launched in the wake of Sandy Hook, takes credit for the divestment of $170 million from those companies.

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