NJ Division of Investment sells all holdings of automatic, semi-automatic weapons manufacturers for civilian use| Apr 17, 2018
The New Jersey Department of Treasury’s Division of Investment announced on Thursday, March 29, that it had voted to sell all of its remaining holdings with Vista Outdoor, which produces semi-automatic rifles for civilian use.
At the State Investment Council’s meeting in March, Division of Investment Director Chris McDonough confirmed that the Division sold the remaining holdings “based on the merits of the investment.”
“After the tragedy in Parkland, we examined our holdings to identify companies which might be adversely financially impacted by a changing landscape as it relates to certain types of firearms,” said McDonough. “Vista Outdoor was the only holding we identified that manufactures semi-automatic or automatic weapons for civilian use.”
The State Investment Council hopes to “explore further potential actions related to civilian firearm manufacturers and retailers” by taking advantage of New Jersey’s new Environment, Social, and Governance Subcommittee.
The Division of Investment is “one of the largest pension fund managers in the United States” and “supports the retirement plans of approximately 769,000 active and retired employees.”
When contacted, Office of the Treasurer Director of Communications Jennifer Sciortino provided the PDF file of the Department of Treasury’s news release and declined to comment further.
The Vista Outdoor representative whom The Daily Princetonian contacted also declined to comment.
This state-level action is certainly in line with Princeton’s own views about the gun control debate.
Princeton Councilman David E. Cohen stated in an email that the Town Council has “very recently taken formal action in the area of gun safety, and unanimously support[s] reasonable, common-sense restrictions on firearms ownership.”
“Princeton Council, at our last meeting, passed a resolution supporting gun violence prevention legislation at the State level,” wrote Cohen. “Six bills were recently passed in the Assembly, and our resolution urged the State Senate to pass their own versions of this legislation.”
This resolution included support for “common sense gun laws,” “removal of firearms” from dangerous individuals, “issuance of gun violence restraining orders,” and the banning of “firearm magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.”
Cohen also affirmed his belief that “economic pressure can be brought to bear on weapons manufacturers through boycotts and divestiture,” although ultimately “manufacturers themselves, not just the retailers, must also take responsibility for the misuse of their products.”
The gun control debate has also found strong voices at the University.
Princeton Against Gun Violence President Ben Bollinger ’21 wrote in an email to the ‘Prince’ that although state officials “characterize[d] this divestment as a logical investment move,” he believes this development to be “undeniably tied to the growing gun reform movement and larger gun reform debate.”
“We are at a unique national moment where attitudes on firearms are beginning to really shift — people are finally making their voices heard and demanding legislative action to fight issues of gun violence,” added Bollinger. “This decision is representative of that collective shift in moral attitude, and suggests a continued push for gun reform in New Jersey and beyond.”
PAGV is one of the newest student groups on campus approved by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students and was founded in the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla.