Shareholders force Ruger to prepare gun violence risk report

05/10/18 6:00 AM | by

The Ruger booth at SHOT Show 2017 in Las Vegas. (Photo: Daniel Terrill/Guns.com)

The Ruger booth at SHOT Show 2017 in Las Vegas. (Photo: Daniel Terrill/Guns.com)

Top executives at Sturm, Ruger and Company said this week a shareholder-requested risk report won’t change anything about the gun maker’s business or its commitment to the Second Amendment.

The statement comes after shareholders approved a proposal at the company’s annual meeting requiring the gun maker produce a report on “activities related to safety measures and mitigation of harm associated with company products” in the wake of several high-profile mass shootings.  A group of faith-based investors — the Catholic Health Initiatives and the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment — told CNBC it will present a similar plan to American Outdoor Brands, holding company of Smith & Wesson, at its annual meeting in the fall.

“The fact that a majority of shareholders is asking you to look at gun safety is incredibly significant,” said Colleen Scanlon, of Catholic Health Initiatives, during the meeting. “While gun violence is an issue of concern to everyone, the responsibility to market safe guns sold to the public appropriately lies with gun manufacturers and distributors.”

Mark Gurney, Ruger’s director of product management, said in an email Wednesday the company was “obligated” to allow shareholders to vote on the request.

“With its passage, the proposal requires Ruger to prepare a report.  That’s it.  A report,” he said. “What the proposal does not do . . . and cannot do . . . is force us to change our business, which is lawful and constitutionally protected.  What it does not do . . . and cannot do . . . is force us to adopt misguided principles created by groups who do not own guns, know nothing about our business, and frankly would rather see us out of business.”

Chief Executive Officer Chris Killoy echoed Gurney’s sentiment, telling shareholders Wednesday Ruger’s commitment to safety predates the sway of public opinion. For example, he said, Ruger began shipping locks with every firearm more than 30 years ago — 19 million have been distributed, to date.

“We understand the importance of those rights and, as importantly, recognize that allowing our constitutionally protected freedoms to be eroded for the sake of political expediency is the wrong approach for our Company, for our industry, for our customers, and for our country,” he said. “We are arms makers for responsible citizens and I want to assure our long-term shareholders and loyal customers that we have no intention of changing that.”

The report follows a wave of corporate activism following a Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland, Florida. BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest money manager, pressed gun makers for insight into their policies for selling firearms in a public survey released in March, while both Bank of America and Citibank announced new lending guidelines for industry customers.

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