FL Pension Fund Joins Group Urging Gun Industry To 'Act Responsibly'

Perceptions of the firearm industry are unlike those of almost any other industry out there. When people misuse a car, no one blames Toyota. When people misuse gasoline, no one blames the gas station.

But when someone does anything at all with a gun, it’s somehow the gun industry’s fault. They’re held to a standard that no other industry has to endure. Now, the Florida state pension fund has joined with a group of investment funds to try and pressure the industry into adopting what they think are the best practices for it.

In other words, they think the industry needs to give a middle finger to their customers for its own good.

Florida has joined a coalition of major pension funds and investment companies that have adopted a set of principles aimed at encouraging gun manufacturers and retailers to act responsibly.

Ash Williams, executive director of the State Board of Administration, which oversees the state pension fund and other investments, said the agreement carries no mandates for gun-related companies. But he said it is designed to raise awareness of issues that could impact the value of investments in the firearms industry.

“We’re not telling anybody, any private company, exactly what they should be doing. Our concern is motivated very simply by one thing, as fiduciaries anything that poses a risk to the value of the assets that we own on behalf of our beneficiaries, we want to make sure we’re managing it properly,” Williams said in an interview with The News Service of Florida.

“By extension, if there is a risk or peril to the stock value of a company that we own in our portfolio, we want to make sure that company is, A, aware of it and, B, attentive to it. That’s all this is,” he said.

In signing the “Principles for a Responsible Civilian Firearms Industry” last month, Florida joined more than a dozen public pension funds and investment companies that have adopted the document.

For the record, the “Principles for a Responsible Civilian Firearms Industry” is a set of five principles that, contrary to what Williams said, is them telling a private company what they should be doing. They may not be telling them how, but they’re trying to force companies to do specific things.

Here are these five “principles”:

Principle 1: Manufacturers should support, advance and integrate the development of technology designed to make civilian firearms safer, more secure, and easier to trace.

Principle 2: Manufacturers should adopt and follow responsible business practices that establish and enforce responsible dealer standards and promote training and education programs for owners designed around firearms safety.

Principle 3: Civilian firearms distributors, dealers, and retailers should establish, promote, and follow best practices to ensure that no firearm is sold without a completed background check in order to prevent sales to persons prohibited from buying firearms or those too dangerous to possess firearms.

Principle 4: Civilian firearms distributors, dealers, and retailers should educate and train their employees to better recognise and effectively monitor irregularities at the point of sale, to record all firearm sales, to audit firearms inventory on a regular basis, and to proactively assist law enforcement.

Principle 5: Participants in the civilian firearms industry should work collaboratively, communicate, and engage with the signatories of these Principles to design, adopt, and disclose measures and metrics demonstrating both best practices and their commitment to promoting these Principles.

Look, calling for education to help reduce straw purchases is one thing. Most of us can get behind that. However, it’s also impossible to monitor and prevent. I can walk into a gun store right now and purchase a firearm for someone else, and no one would be any the wiser about it. At best, it’ll force criminals to be a little smarter.

Principle 1, however, is troublesome. It sure as hell reads to me like they want to force gun makers to adopt so-called “smart gun” technology. That’s a point way too far for most gun owners. We understand just what happens when smart guns hit the market, and we also know people will die because of that technology. After all, the more complex a device is, the more failure points it has. Smart guns will have a lot of failure points.

All this is about creating an onus for manufacturers and retailers, to make them responsible for what people do with guns after they’re lawfully sold. That’s bull.

Maybe it’s time for pro-gun investors to band together to counter this kind of nonsense.