California pension fund to divest from gunmakers

SAN FRANCISCO Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:30pm EDT

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California's pension fund for teachers made official on Friday its plan to divest holdings in firearms companies whose weapons are illegal in the state.

The California State Teachers' Retirement System will now sell holdings in two publicly traded gunmakers Sturm, Ruger & Co and Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. The investments are worth about $3 million.

The divestment plan has been in play since January at the $161.5 billion pension fund after State Treasurer Bill Lockyer advanced it in response to the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December.

Lockyer sits on the board of the fund, best known as Calstrs, and also pressed it to divest holdings in manufacturers of high-capacity ammunition magazines that are illegal for the general public in California.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting involved a type of semi-automatic rifle banned in California and sparked a national debate regarding gun control with some pension funds flexing their financial clout to weigh in on the issue.

Lockyer also sits on the board of the California Public Employees' Retirement System, the biggest U.S. public pension fund. Its investment committee voted in February to divest holdings in Sturm Ruger and Smith & Wesson in a move affecting about $5 million in investments.

(Reporting by Jim Christie)

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