Bill De Blasio calls on teachers union to divest pension fund into gun companies

Former mayor – and congressional hopeful – Bill de Blasio calls out the state teachers’ union for investing $13 million of its pension funds in gun and ammunition companies after the shooting of 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.

De Blasio is calling on both the New York State Teachers Retirement Fund and the NYS Common Retirement Fund, which represents state and local government employees and retirees — who are separately overseen by state auditor Tom DiNapoli — to divest their gun industry interests.

The two pension funds’ holdings in arms and manufacturing companies add up to $26 million.

The NYS Teachers Retirement Fund has assets in Sturm Ruger, Vista Outdoor Inc. Olin Corp. (Winchester Ammo) and National Presto Industries, records show.

“There are public companies that make these deadly weapons, and there they are
public corporations that make bullets and ammunition that are used to kill our children.
These companies cannot raise capital without going to the public markets and as a result
The shareholders of these companies cannot be passive investors in the face of life and death
deployments,” De Blasio said in a letter sent Tuesday to New York State Teachers Retirement System President David Keefe and Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer Thomas Lee.

The shootings in Uvalde, Texas and also in Buffalo have sparked another nationwide debate about gun laws.
The shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo have sparked national debates about gun laws.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon, file

De Blasio, who is running in the redrawn 10th congressional district, which includes lower Manhattan and brownstone Brooklyn and Borough Park, said certain investments by the pension fund’s “independent” money managers “can pass a fiduciary screen, but not a moral one. ”

He noted that the pension fund was a “significant investor” in one of the country’s largest gun makers, Storm Ruger and Co., as well as in Olin, one of the country’s largest bullet makers.

“Put simply, the money that gives these teachers a shot at a long and happy retirement shouldn’t go to the industry that threatens to shorten their lives and the lives of their students,” de Blasio continued.

“The Teacher’s Retirement System has the power to hold the gun industry accountable by eliminating the following stocks… And so I’m writing today to ask for your guidance as you urge your managers to divest themselves of Olin, Sturm and Vista Outdoors and for the New York State Teachers Retirement System to implement a tough new investment criteria to protect gun and to no longer hold ammunition manufacturers in their fund.”

The NYSTRS is one of the ten largest public pension funds in the nation with net assets of $148.1 billion that provides benefits to nearly 434,000 teachers, professors and other educators in New York state public schools, the letter said.

De Blasio sent an almost identical letter to DiNapoli, noting that the New York State Common Retirement Fund is the third-largest public retirement fund in the country, managing $207.4 billion in net assets and nearly one million New York state government employees pension benefits granted.

The New York State United Teachers Union had no immediate comment.

A DiNapoli spokesman said the NYSRF has been overseeing its investments in gun and ammunition companies and has already divested some of its holdings.

Tom DiNapoli, Comptroller of the State of New York
De Blasio also sent a letter to New York comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
Stephen Jeremiah

The former mayor acknowledged that the divestment is just “one piece of the puzzle” in an “all hands on deck” approach that includes a ban on selling ammunition online, among other sensible security measures.

Other candidates running or considering running in the 10th CD Democratic primary include Rep. Mondaire Jones, who is currently representing the 17th CD; including former Brooklyn Congresswoman and Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman, Rep. Yuh-Line Niou, and Councilwoman Carlina Rivera. Bill De Blasio calls on teachers union to divest pension fund into gun companies


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