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Human Rights Resolution Passes at Annual Meeting

With political officials seemingly unable or unwilling to do anything about mass shootings, leadership may be coming from an unexpected quarter: shareholders in corporations that manufacture firearms.

Rejecting the recommendation of the company’s board of directors, a majority of shareholders at Sturm Ruger’s June 1 Annual Meeting called on the company to produce a Human Rights Impact Assessment.  The Connecticut-based company, which owns a manufacturing facility in Newport, New Hampshire, is the second biggest American producer of firearms, according to a recent report published by Visual Capitalist.

Sturm Ruger, often just called Ruger, reported $728 million in net firearms sales in 2021, up nearly 29% from the previous year.

The resolution states, “Shareholders urge the Sturm Ruger board of directors to oversee a third party Human Right Impact Assessment (within a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost) which assesses and produces recommendations for improving the human rights impacts of its policies, practices and products, above and beyond legal and regulatory matters. Input from stakeholders, including human rights organizations, employees, and customers, should be considered in determining the specific matters to be assessed. A report on the assessment, prepared at reasonable cost and omitting confidential/proprietary information, should be published on the company’s website.”

The resolution drew support from holders of 7,840,251 shares, or about 68.5% of the vote, according to a form filed on Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Adoption of the measure drew praise from groups representing religious investors, who were the primary backers of the resolution.

“Any industry that manufactures a product that ends more than 110 lives a day and is the leading cause of death among children and teens should be willing to take a hard look at its role in this public health epidemic,” said Lydia Kuykendal of Mercy Investment Services, an affiliate of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. “Today, shareholders at Sturm Ruger instructed the company they own to do just that. An independent and robust Human Rights Impact Assessment will help uncover risks to the business and to investors, which we hope leads to measurable steps to curb gun violence in this country. If, as they claim, Sturm Ruger is interested in being part of the solution, they should welcome this vote and immediately move to implement it.”

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Arnie Alpert is a retired activist, organizer, and community educator long involved in movements for social and economic justice. Arnie writes an occasional column Active with the Activists for InDepthNH.org.