Elizabeth Warren Urges Investment Firms to Hold Gun Manufacturers Accountable

The senator wrote to the leaders of nine funds, including Boston-based Fidelity, to implore them to encourage change.

Elizabeth Warren at a microphone

Photo via AP

United and Delta Airlines ended their discount programs for NRA members. Dick’s Sporting Goods halted in-store sales of assault-style weapons. And if Elizabeth Warren has her way, Boston-based Fidelity Investment Management will use its capital to wade into the gun-reform debate, too.

Across industries, the business community has begun to react—both symbolically and fiscally—to the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead and galvanized gun-reform activists. In conjunction with the groundswell, Warren implored several investment funds that hold large stakes in gun manufacturing companies to pressure the industry to change. Along with Fidelity, she urged leaders at BlackRock, Vanguard Group, and six other funds to leverage their shares and hold the weapons sector accountable for the gun violence that plagues American civil life.

“Your company is in a powerful position,” Warren wrote in the letters. “You have reaped significant benefits from your investment in gun manufactures, but have done little to reduce the violence and murders caused by their products. I encourage you to take action to ensure that the gun companies in which you invest are taking steps to reduce gun violence.”

Fidelity, Warren notes in her letter, is the largest stakeholder of Vista Outdoors, which manufactures an AR-15 rifle similar to the weapon used in the mass shootings in Parkland, Newtown, Las Vegas, and elsewhere.

Of course, the investment managers on the receiving end of Warren’s letters don’t actually sit in the boardrooms of the gun manufacturers. However, as the Boston Globe noted, Wall Street power players have reacted to the recent swell of activism, and Bank of America, MetLife, and State Street have all at least tacitly participated in the current debate. For its part, a Fidelity spokeswoman told the Globe that though fund leaders avoid commenting publicly on specific companies, they do “engage and debate them on a number of topics including social responsibility when appropriate.”