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Rebuking Call to Arms, California Teachers Choose Firearm Divestment

Pension group voted unanimously in response to Sandy Hook school shooting

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

A California teachers' pension fund voted unanimously on Wednesday to divest itself of firearms holdings, in a clear rebuke of the recent proposals to arm teachers as a means of preventing future school shootings.

A California teachers' pension fund is paving the way in firearm divestment, after voting unanimously on Wednesday. (Photo: George Frey /Getty Images) Calling the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school a "tipping point" for the group, the $154 billion California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS), one of America’s largest pension funds, began the formal divestment process on the basis that ammunition clips and assault rifles "pose extreme dangers to public health and safety" and that "divestment from the makers of these products complies with the board's fiduciary duty," said Treasurer Bill Lockyear. 

Investment Committee Chairman Harry Keiley called the action necessary "given the unspeakable and tragic loss of life that occurred in Connecticut last month—the latest in an ongoing line of similar incidents involving assault weapons and mass casualties."

According to the Associated Press:

CalSTRS is invested in private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, which owns the manufacturer of an assault rifle used in last month's Connecticut school massacre. The pension fund also owns shares of Sturm, Ruger & Co. and Smith & Wesson Holding Corp., two publicly traded gun manufacturers.

The New York Times adds that

the move puts the California teachers’ fund at the forefront of a movement to reconsider whether investing in firearms is an appropriate way for states and cities to cover the retirement costs of their workers. Since the shootings, officials of other public pension funds, including those in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, have said they were searching their portfolios for firearms investments.

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