Activist Investors Push Smith & Wesson To Consider Gun Violence Impact

Activist investors have been trying for some time to change the shape of the firearm industry. In their mind, they can buy enough stock to pressure gun companies to take steps to embrace gun control, they just need to throw enough money into the mix.

In theory, they’re right. They’d need to purchase a lot of stock of all the different companies, but then it’s certainly possible. At least in theory.

However, right now, it seems that a group of activist investors made up mostly of nuns seeks to pressure Smith & Wesson to do “something” about gun violence.

With $2,000 worth of stock, a network of nuns and a Catholic health care organizations are once again asking gunmaker Smith & Wesson to adopt a statement on human rights and to make a public accounting of the cost of gun violence.

Company management — remembering the strong backlash to Smith & Wesson’s Clinton-era overtures to gun safety advocates — said adopting the sort of human rights policy the nuns are looking for would alienate supporters in the “firearms enthusiast community,” according to Smith & Wesson documents filed in the run-up to the vote.

The request for a human rights policy modeled on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights goes before stockholders Tuesday, Oct. 13, at Smith & Wesson’s annual shareholders meeting.

This isn’t the first time the group has tried to pressure the company to adopt such a statement. In fact, they tried it a year ago and it didn’t go anywhere.

In its report American Outdoor Brands rebuffed the Interfaith Center, saying mass shootings don’t hurt the company’s reputation, and that the company would not endorse any gun restrictions. And, the company said, its gun customers wouldn’t stand for the actions the religious groups were seeking.

“The Company’s reputation as a strong defender of the Second Amendment is not worth risking for a vague goal of improving the company’s reputation among non-customers or special interest groups with an anti-Second Amendment agenda,” the company’s report said.

Makes sense, really. Why damage your reputation with your customers over the promise of improving that relationship with people who are literally never going to buy your products?

At the end of the day, though, we really need to question just what these activist investors really think they’re going to accomplish. Smith & Wesson, as well as every other firearm manufacturer in the nation, make guns that are then sold to people who undergo NICS checks. Every single one. Either the company sells directly–in which case the weapon is shipped to an FFL who conducts the background check–or they’re sold to a distributor who then sells them to gun stores…who then perform an NICS on prospective buyers.

There’s literally nothing a gun company can do to prevent guns getting into criminal hands that they’re not already doing. Literally nothing.

So why keep tilting at these particular windmills? Why continue to push for this?

Honestly, I can’t even imagine why, but it’s understandable that Smith & Wesson has decided to basically ignore the mosquito buzzing in their ear. They know how the gun crowd can be when it comes to capitulating to anti-gunners’ demands and there’s zero reason for them to consider it.