Investing in Guns as a Path to Advocacy

The Episcopal Church is profiting from its investments in gun companies.

That might sound strange or alarming to some people, but context matters. Episcopal News Service reports that the church has purchased $2,000 worth of stock in each of three public gun companies — the minimum amount necessary to give the church the right to sponsor shareholder resolutions.

The church intends to offer resolutions backing “the kind of legislation that the vast majority of Americans support,” said Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, one of the conveners of the group Bishops United Against Gun Violence. Examples include universal background checks, limits on the size of magazines and fingerprint verification for purchasers.

The purchases grew out of a shareholder engagement plan authorized by General Convention last year. The plan provides guidelines for “dioceses, church organizations, and individual Episcopalians” to make their own investments.

The church purchased stock in November and December in Sturm Ruger; American Outdoor Brands, which owns Smith & Wesson; and Olin Corporation, owner of Winchester Ammunition. As of late July the $6,000 investment is worth about $10,000, ENS reports.

Western Massachusetts Bishop Douglas Fisher, who heads the church’s Committee on Corporate and Social Responsibility, said he can understand

“… the concerns of Episcopalians who may bristle at the thought of the church owning stock in the companies that make the weapons used in mass shootings.

“On the other hand, how are we going to have an impact on the public health crisis of gun violence?” he said.

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