At last year’s annual meeting of Sturm, Ruger & Co shareholders, a small group of activist gun control proponents — or as the media compliantly refers to them, gun safety advocates — put forward a motion to require the company to issue a report that included:
– Evidence of monitoring of violent events associated with products produced by the company.
– Efforts underway to research and produce safer guns and gun products.
– Assessment of the corporate reputational and financial risks related to gun violence in the U.S.
See the shareholders’ full proposal here.
The nuisance move was put forward by a small group of anti-gun shareholders led by a group of nuns from Oregon. Normally it wouldn’t have had a prayer of passing, but the proposal was made in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting. As a result, some of Ruger’s large institutional shareholders like BlackRock and Vanguard Group signed on in order participate in the growing corporate gun control movement and to signal how terribly concerned they were about “gun violence.”
Now, a year later, the same group of shareholders wants to flex their voting muscles again. As Reuters reports . . .
The plan for this year’s gathering, set for May 8 in New Hampshire, promises to renew a debate over how the company might respond to a series of mass shootings across the United States, including at schools, houses of worship and workplaces.
The activists include Majority Action, a liberal-leaning shareholder group, and religious investors affiliated with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. While they hold a small number of Sturm Ruger shares, last year members of Interfaith Center won backing for a resolution from fund companies including top Ruger shareholders BlackRock Inc and Vanguard Group, showing an ability to set the agenda.
This year the activists said they will call on other investors to vote “withhold” on Sturm Ruger Chairman Michael Jacobi and on company director Sandra Froman, who is also a director of the National Rifle Association and was its president from 2005 to 2007.
After last year’s “success” what are the anti-gun shareholders after?
Eli Kasargod-Staub, Majority Action’s executive director, said in an interview that Sturm Ruger should take a harder look at “smart gun” technology and hold talks with investors, dialogue it has rejected in the past.
He also said the company should step back from divisive cultural issues promoted by the NRA. Together, the topics “are the kind of issues that can and have been productively engaged on through dialogue with long-term investors at other companies,” he said.
Will Ruger’s large shareholders continue to sign on with the anti-gun groups and enable nuisance moves such as these that are only designed to distract the company’s management and work directly against shareholders’ long-term interests? We can’t wait to see.