It stands to reason that gun companies would support the National Rifle Association. The NRA wants to keep as large a pool of people being able to buy guns as possible. That means gun manufacturers would have a much larger base of people to sell their products to. In other words, supporting the NRA is rational self-interest, if nothing else.
However, a bank is threatening Sturm, Ruger & Company over its NRA support.
Amalgamated Bank said it will pull investments from Sturm, Ruger & Company and withhold support for an board member if the gun maker fails to adopt new corporate policies and cut ties with the National Rifle Association. The bank’s chief executive Keith Mestrich described Ruger’s relationship with the NRA as “short-termism” in their resistance to new gun laws.
“They fail to proactively adopt corporate social responsibility efforts commensurate with the lethality of their product, and display hypocrisy in touting adherence to the law while working with the NRA to weaken the law as much as possible,” Mestrich said. He made a fiduciary argument that Amalgamated would have to pull funds because Ruger’s effort “creates significant financial and reputational risks” that will hurt the company and shareholders.
Amalgamated sent a letter, dated April 19, to Ruger’s board urging them to adopt corporate policies for gun makers recommended by gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety. The policies range from endorsing universal background checks and increasing funding for federal regulators and gun violence research to monitoring inventory distribution and investing in gun safety technology (ie smart guns).
The letter also singled out company board member Sandra Froman, who also serves on the NRA’s board. Because of the NRA’s political mission, the bank argued her presence is “a potentially significant conflict of interest.” As shareholders participating in Ruger’s annual meeting on May 9, the bank threatened to withhold support for Froman if the company failed to adopt Everytown’s policies.
What Amalgamated doesn’t get is that Ruger and the NRA share the same fight, if for different reasons.
The endgame of all gun control policies is to eventually restrict gun ownership to just a select few, making it practically impossible for the average citizen to own a gun. That means practically no one would be able to buy Ruger products. They’d be forced to compete for limited government contracts.
Why should Ruger support that?
But let’s say that it never got that far. You know, for the sake of argument. Let’s say Ruger decided to bow down to Amalgamated’s demands. What then?
Well, then Ruger would become a pariah in the firearm industry. Second Amendment advocates, most of whom are already gun owners and gun purchasers, would make it their mission to warn people off from buying Ruger products. “They’ll sell to you, but they won’t support your Second Amendment rights,” we’ll say, and we’ll be right.
This will directly impact their bottom line.
Luckily, Amalgamated probably doesn’t have the juice it’s pretending it does. Amalgamated isn’t listed as one of the top-20 investors in the company, which means any impact it makes is likely fairly minimal. While it’s possible it will pick up more shares to increase its ability to pressure the company, it’s unlikely it’ll do so sufficiently to really have much sway.
In fact, I wonder just how many shares of Ruger it owns, anyway. After all, based on its corporate culture–it’s the largest union-owned bank in the country–and how most of its notable clients are progressive/liberal entities, I’d be surprised to see it having owned many gun stocks prior to Parkland.
Oh, I’ll admit it may well have. Hypocrisy is hardly new in gun grabber circles, after all. But I still have my doubts.
Either way, though, Ruger would be stupid to bow down to these demands. There’s literally no upside for the company to do so, which Amalgamated doesn’t seem to get.