NYC teacher pension fund pulls money from gun makers

NEW YORK Fri Feb 15, 2013 1:49pm EST

Rifles are seen at the Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. gun factory in Newport, New Hampshire in this file photo taken January 6, 2012. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Rifles are seen at the Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. gun factory in Newport, New Hampshire in this file photo taken January 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City's teacher pension fund has sold its stocks of publicly traded firearms manufacturers, becoming the largest U.S. public pension fund to do so in response to the school shootings in Connecticut, the city's top financial officer said.

The $46.6 billion fund divested all its holdings in five companies, for investments valued at $13.5 million as of January 26, a spokesman for New York City Comptroller John Liu said on Friday.

U.S. teachers and public employees retirement funds, began reviewing their investments in firearms makers after 20 children and six adults were shot dead at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut in December.

"There is no need to support these companies, whose products can destroy lives and shatter communities in the blink of an eye," Liu said in a statement. "Our investment portfolio gains nothing by doing business with these firms."

The five companies from which the New York City fund divested are Alliant Techsystems Inc., Olin Corp., Forjas Taurus SA, Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. and Sturm, Ruger & Co..

Under pressure from the second-largest U.S. public pension fund - the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS), U.S. private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management said days after the massacre in Connecticut that it would sell gunmaker Freedom Group, which made the brand of semi-automatic rifle used in the shooting.

Cerberus has not completed its sale of Freedom, CalSTRS spokesman Ricardo Duran told Reuters. Duran would not comment on the details of any possible sale but said CalSTRS is monitoring the progress.

"We're confident that they'll be able to do this in a fairly timely manner," Duran said. "We don't want to push them. We don't want to be driving the sale of this."

CalSTRS wants to get a fair market price and understands that a sale takes time, he said. A Cerberus spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment.

In January, CalSTRS decided to sell its investments in manufacturers of firearms and high-capacity ammunition clips that are banned in California. That divestment is still underway.

California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer is also pressing the biggest U.S. fund, the $254 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, to shed its $5 million of exposure to firearms manufacturers. CalPERS' board will discuss a recent report on its investments in gunmakers next week.

New York state's $150 billion public pension fund said in January that it will stop buying shares of publicly traded firearms manufacturers, including Sturm Ruger, but had not decided whether to dump its investments in the companies.

New York City's teacher pension fund is also invested in gun retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc., but a spokesman for Liu would not comment on whether the fund is reviewing its holdings of gun sellers.

(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by James Dalgleish and Andrew Hay)

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Comments (6)
victor672 wrote:
A corrupt, probably bankrupt union does this while their members buy guns for protection. Nuts.

Feb 15, 2013 11:13am EST  --  Report as abuse
eckerd06 wrote:
Yeah, let’s punish companies that manufacture weapons and ammunition for law enforcement, the same law enforcement that protects them every single day.

Feb 15, 2013 11:34am EST  --  Report as abuse
glendower wrote:
Yes, quite a few teachers are taking firearms training and getting ccw permits.

And there’s more good news: When the teachers’ pension fund sells their shares, there will be more shares available for purchase by you and me.

Feb 15, 2013 11:45am EST  --  Report as abuse
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