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Going Long on Guns

By Matthew Townsend

In its July 10 afternoon session, the House of Deputies approved a resolution that would see Episcopalians advocate for a reduction in gun violence — as shareholders.

Resolution B007, passed by a wide margin in the house, directs the Executive Council Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility to “develop and implement a shareholder engagement plan by which dioceses, church organizations, and individual Episcopalians investing in the publicly traded stock of gun manufacturers and retailers could act to effect change in these companies through the practices of shareholder advocacy to do everything in their power to minimize lethal and criminal uses of their products.”

Canon Brendan O’Sullivan-Hale, chair of the Committee on Stewardship and Responsible Investment, told deputies the resolution was proposed by Bishop Doug Fisher, representing Bishops United Against Gun Violence, leveraging shareholder engagement “in an effort to get gun manufactures and gun safety and market safer technology.”

Suzy Burke of Connecticut spoke in favor of the resolution, saying that her first love had been shot to death when she was in her first year of college. “To my deep regret, I concluded that if God existed, God would not have allowed this to happen — an easy leap for a lonely 17-year-old girl far from her home and church,” she said.

Joshua Farrier of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe also praised the resolution. “In large companies today, the responsibility that the company has is not a social responsibly. It is a fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders to make as much money as possible,” he said. “In other words, if we want to effect some sort of change within companies and how companies perform, we have to do it from within.”

Amendments aimed at broadening the strategy or setting a time limit were proposed from the floor but were defeated.

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