The Pension Boards Takes Action on Gun Violence

The Pension Boards-United Church of Christ (PBUCC), a founding member of The Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), is taking significant steps toward action on gun violence in America. Gun violence, particularly school shootings, is a concern shared by over 300 faith community members of the organization.

PBUCC joined with ecumenical partners to sign ICCR’s “Investor Statement on Gun Violence” identifying 13 actions companies can adopt to reduce the risk of gun violence.

Religious organizations, including PBUCC, have called for common sense measures to reduce gun violence without interfering in 2nd Amendment Constitutional rights of legitimate gun owners for several years, even before the most recent mass shootings at the forefront of our news. PBUCC, however decided that more action was necessary.

On August 1, 2018, the Pension Boards-United Church of Christ (PBUCC) Board of Trustees’ Investment Committee voted to eliminate direct investment in U.S. companies that are engaged in the production of small arms ammunition or firearms, including, pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns, or sub-machine guns and that derive 10% or more of revenues from sales.

Prior to the vote, on May 9, the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee of the PBUCC Board voted unanimously to recommend that the Investment Committee consider an appropriate screen, or policy, regarding firearms.

In its recommendation, the CSR Committee wrote, “PBUCC continues to believe that constructive engagement is the most powerful tool for effecting corporate change.”

The text of the recommendation continues:

“The investment committee of PBUCC will evaluate the social impacts of the companies in which we invest and will use engagement to improve corporate environmental, social and financial performance. In addition, to manage excessive sustainability risk, management may choose to eliminate from investment, companies involved in the manufacture of firearms. Therefore, the CSR committee recommends to the investment committee that a firearms policy (and/or screen) be added to the Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines of the Investment Policy of PBUCC.”

“It should be emphasized that action on gun violence should be a multi-strategy and multi-themed effort addressing mental health, common sense legislation such as universal background checks, and corporate as well as government action,” says the Rev. Richard E. Walters, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for the Pension Boards.

Walters continues: “The very idea behind the kind of social transformation work of the church is that prayer alone is not enough. Comforting grieving victims alone is not enough. Rather, action to change laws, influence corporate behavior, and work together as a society to bring about life-sustaining change is the co-creative call of God in our lives to do much more.”