Gun Prohibitionists And Shareholder Proposals

When I was a child growing up Catholic, I was taught to respect and admire nuns. These women religious had taken vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They served the poor and the downtrodden, they worked to heal those that were ill, and they taught children in all phases of their education. Indeed, my Great-Aunt Tessie, one of my maternal grandfather’s older sisters, was a Sister of Charity who took the name Sr. Joseph Scholastica.

Thus, I am dismayed and angered when I see the continuous effort at gun prohibition by certain orders of Catholic nuns. Their tool is to buy a minimal number of shares of a firearms company and then submit a shareholder proposal advocating for certain reports on “gun violence” or adoption of the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. If they can get buy-in from one of the proxy advisory firms such as Glass Lewis or Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), they have a good chance of passing their proposal regardless of the harm it will do to the firearms company and its business. This is because many institutional investors just go along with whatever the proxy advisor says to do.

Such is the case in an effort by the Adrian Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan with their shareholder proposal now before shareholders of Smith and Wesson Brands, Inc.

Their proposal, states in part:

As investors, we seek to identify and assess human rights risks and impacts in portfolio companies because they can have direct implications for shareholder value and, depending on how they are managed, can affect a company’s long-term viability.

Given the lethality of firearms products and the potential for their misuse, the risk of adverse human rights impacts is especially elevated for all gun manufacturers, including SWBI…

While SWBI has a number of corporate policies, including a Corporate Stewardship Policy and a Code of
Ethics, the information available on its website does not mention a public commitment to respect human
rights.

This is utter nonsense. I wonder if the good sisters are now pushing any other shareholder proposals that call out the many companies that have recently stated post-Dobbs that they will pay for travel expenses for employees to get an abortion. Abortion is most certainly against Catholic doctrine. Meanwhile, Catholic doctrine since the time of St. Thomas Aquinas and his Just War Theory has recognized the right to self-defense. The current Catechism of the Catholic Church recognizes the moral duty to defend not only one’s own life but that of others. This includes, if necessary, the use of lethal force and the killing of the aggressor.

Smith & Wesson is not caving to these demands. Indeed, they are calling them out on it.

First, they note that this is the fifth year in a row that the Adrian Dominican Sisters have submitted such a shareholder proposal and that the company has engaged them and other shareholders directly on their concerns.

Then they point out:

Our approach is guided by the knowledge that we are responsible for safeguarding stockholder value in a highly politicized environment. These safeguards are swept aside by the proponent’s insistence on the singular path of the UNGP, the essence of which is to require companies to “remedy” harms that are identified by third-parties that have no financial interest in those companies. Indeed, the proposal on its face insists that we do so “regardless of legal requirements.” Multiple groups estimate these extra-legal
“human rights costs” at $280 billion per year.

It is not necessary to expose our stockholders to this risk. Our proven approach – of working with stockholders to identify and manage specific financial risks and impacts through active oversight – is superior to the proponent’s imposition of an external convention that supplants stockholder control.

S&W points out they have established a Environmental, Social, and Governance Committee on the board, published fact sheets dealing with environmental factors as well as the firearms market, established a video library on safe firearms handling, and adopted a corporate stewardship policy.

S&W then brings out the big guns, so to speak:

The proponent now has acknowledged that the proposal seeks to harm our business. For the past five years, we have explained that the proponent is part of a well-funded and well-organized campaign that aims to damage our business. The proponent has recently confirmed our concerns by:
• Calling for a ban of lawful firearms, including some of our most popular products.
• Calling on stockholders of service businesses, particularly banks and insurers, to engineer a boycott
of our industry.
• Targeting credit card companies to compel them to cease processing payments for certain firearm
products.

They document each of these assertions in the footnotes.

Finally, they point out the experience of Ruger with these nuns and other like groups in which these so-called human rights groups with no financial stake in the company would “design the program that will establish Ruger’s liability– liability ‘above and beyond legal and regulatory matters.'”

I don’t know whether this proposal will end up passing or not. A lot will depend upon how institutional investors such as pension funds and mutual funds vote. My personal opinion is that the managers of index funds should not have a vote on proxy matters. They only invest in the stock because it is part of an established index and not because of the product, the management team, or how it is governed. But that is only my own personal opinion in which others may differ.

“to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited”

HR 1808 passed the House this evening by a vote of 217-213. Interestingly, the Clerk of the House still has not released the roll call vote on the bill even though it was 1 1/2 hours ago.

All bills have to have a “purpose” stated. The official purpose of HR 1808 is “To regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and for other purposes.”

To ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited? In other words, the elites on the Democrats side plus the two Republican turncoats don’t want minorities, Red Staters, the working class, or anyone else who is part of the Great Unwashed to be armed with anything that might just threaten their grip on power.

Given there are over 24 million semi-automatic rifles in circulation, I think those who voted for this bill are just spitting in the wind. Also banned would be any semi-auto pistol with a threaded barrel and any semi-auto shotgun with a pistol or bird’s head grip whose tube held more than 5 rounds. I don’t even want to estimate the number of standard capacity mags in existence.

Unless the Republicans in the Senate cave entirely, this bill will be dead on arrival there.

Unintended Consequences Of An AWB

If Congress in its infinite wisdom (sic) were to pass a new assault weapons ban on semi-automatic firearms, it might just increase the number of suicides. That would be an incredibly sad unintended consequence of the law.

I had the opportunity to meet Sarah Joy Albrecht at the SHOT Show this year. She founded a non-profit called HoldMyGuns.Org. It works through a network of Federal Firearms Licensees to have them hold a person’s firearms during times of mental health crisis or personal need. This is 100% voluntary on the part of the firearm owners and provides them safe, off-site storage. When the crisis has passed, they reclaim their firearms.

It is voluntary, government is not involved, and the firearms are held by someone who has been vetted by Hold My Guns. Those holding the firearms for the individual are both licensed and insured.

So how would a new AWB impact this effort to reduce suicide and assist those having a mental health crisis?

Sarah Joy posted this on Twitter this morning.

The gun prohibitionists style themselves as concerned citizens whose only motivation is “gun safety” and the reduction of crimes committed with firearms. The reality is that they don’t give a big rat’s ass if Joe Bob cannot find a safe location for his firearms during a mental health crisis and ends up killing himself. It only adds to their statistics. It is time to call them out on it as well as the politicians who kowtow to them.

AWB On The Floor Today

Nancy Pelosi must have twisted a lot of arms and changed her mind. It is now being reported that HR 1808, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2021, and HR 2814, Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act of 2022, will considered today. The latter bill is the repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

My feeling is that Pelosi was pissed off that the Senate Republicans stalled passage of the PACT Act and this is retribution. The problem for Republicans with the PACT Act, as I understand it, was not with the intent of the bill but the funding. Punchbowl News puts it that it was a move by Republicans in response to the Manchin-Schumer agreement on “build back better”.

NSSF sent this out by email:

CRITICAL ALERT REMINDER: ‘ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN’ VOTE TODAY
These Bills Could Be Voted on Today!
Contact Your U.S. Representative This Morning At (202) 224 3121! 

Anti gun leaders in the House called an emergency meeting last night to employ a seldom used tactic that would expedite consideration of both the so-called “Assault Weapons” ban, and the bill to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

Both bills could be voted on by the full House of Representatives today!

It is unclear if Speaker Pelosi has the votes needed to pass the bills at this moment, so it is critical that you call your U.S. Representative TODAY and urge a “NO” vote on H.R. 1808, the so-called “Assault Weapons Ban” of 2022, and H.R. 2814, the so-called “Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act.”

The Firearms Policy Coalition was likewise warning about this last evening.

I am now reading that the rule allowing consideration of the bills has passed 216-205.

Pelosi Puts AWB On Hold

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has put the vote on HR 1808, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2021, on hold.

Yesterday, she posted this:

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi released this statement on negotiations around a package of public safety bills the House will consider:

“For safer communities, Members have been working on a package of critical public safety bills.  As those discussions are continuing, it is clear that the House will reconvene in August in order to vote for the Reconciliation bill.  We are grateful to all our Members for promoting our shared values reflected in specific legislation that we can all support.

“Right now, we are preparing to take up the CHIPS and Science Act from the Senate and Members are engaged in advocating for the PACT Act in the Senate.”

In other words, she could not round up enough votes to pass the new AWB so Democrats are going to focus on the exposure of veterans to toxins. At least that will help those that served.

As Emily Miller observed:

It’s called whipping the vote. And when you whip and don’t have the 218 needed, you pull the bill to avoid a public relations debacle.  Pelosi had to yank the bill because a few Democrats from moderate districts didn’t want to vote on an unpopular gun grab bill months before elections. 

That said, Pelosi has during the break to twist arms. Don’t consider the bill as being dead.

From Stephen Gutowski’s The Reload:

The fact it doesn’t have the votes to pass the Senate regardless of what the House does has added to the difficulty of the election-year vote as well.

John Bresnahan, who has spent decades covering Capitol Hill and co-founded Punchbowl, said the bill isn’t doomed yet. He said Pelosi needs more time to try and please progressive members and those from the Congressional Black Caucus as well as moderates. The former want the ban and limits on how police funds can be used, while the latter are leery of the ban and pushing for the funding.

“I think the window is still open,” Bresnahan told The Reload. “When you get that close, you don’t just walk away from it.”

He said Pelosi can afford up to four defections from Democrats and still be able to pass the bill. With somewhere over 210 members already on record supporting the bill, leadership only needs to bring a few more on board. The failure to corral a vote before the recess is a notable setback, but Bresnahan said Democrats have until the end of September to figure out how to get their caucus to agree.

So keep writing and calling your representatives. This is especially true for those readers represented by a Democrat who might be on the fence. Remind them of 1994 and what happened to Democrats in that election.

Democrats And A New AWB

…and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Vol. 1, Reason in Common Sense

Democrats in the US House of Representatives are struggling to find the final votes needed to pass HR 1808, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2021. While the bill does have 212 co-sponsors, it needs 218 votes to pass. As Politico notes, they are still trying to find the final votes needed to pass the bill. They might get a vote or two from Republicans like Rep. Adam Kinzinger (RINO-IL) and Rep. Chris Jacobs (RINO-NY) both of whom are retiring after this session. Even if it does pass the House, it will go nowhere in the Senate.

The last time Congress passed an assault weapons ban, the Democrats lost the both houses of Congress. The Republicans picked up 8 seats in the Senate and 54 seats in the House. Even House Speaker Tom Foley (D-WA) lost his seat.

Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), a six-term congressman who just lost his primary to extreme leftist, anti-gun, Liz Warren-endorsed Jamie McLeod-Skinner, did remember what happened after passage of the ’94 AWB. Moreover, it is not like Schrader is even remotely pro-gun.

From Politico:

“This is a bill that destroyed the Democrats in ‘94. I guess, do we really have a death wish list as Democrats?” said Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), who will not be on the ballot in November as he has already lost his primary.

The Oregonian centrist is one of more than a half-dozen Democrats either opposed to or undecided on the legislation, many from rural districts where gun safety laws are more contentious. Part of Schrader’s argument: Democrats would risk stomping on their latest bipartisan gun bill by passing something that goes further but will not become law: “It undermines what we already did and reemphasizes to all the people in America that are not hardcore urban Democrats that our party’s out of touch.”

The Republicans have long been referred to as “the stupid party” for their propensity to snatch defeat out of the mouth of victory. This time it looks like the Democrats are well on their way to being the stupid party. But, then again, as the Instapundit always says, “Don’t get cocky”.

UPDATE: The National Shooting Sports Foundation updated their estimate of modern sporting rifles in circulation. It is now over 24 million. That certainly meets the “in common use” standard.

Below is their chart showing a year-by-year estimate of the number produced, imported, and exported.

EstMSR1990_2020

Against Guns, Against Self-Defense, or Both?

There was a shooting at the Greenwood Park Mall in Indianapolis, Indiana area on Sunday. Reportedly, the killer had hidden in the bathroom adjacent to the food court with a number of firearms in his backpack. As the mall was preparing to close, he entered the food court and killed three individuals as well as wounding two others. He might have killed more but he was stopped by 22 y.o. Elisjsha Dicken who was legally armed. Mr. Dicken was legally carrying concealed without a permit as was his right under Indiana’s recently passed permitless carry bill.

While the mall was posted as a so-called gun free zone, they have no force of law in Indiana. It would only be an offense if the carrier was asked to leave and refused. In that case, the concealed carrier could be arrested for criminal trespass.

Even though the mall was posted against carry by its owners the Simon Property Group, they had this to say about Mr. Dicken.

We are grateful for the strong response of the first responders, including the heroic actions of the Good Samaritan who stopped the suspect.

Contrast this dignified response with that of two of the leaders of the gun prohibition industry: Shannon Watts and Kris Brown.

First, Mrs. Watts who resided in the Indy area for many years until she left for more progressive pastures in the People’s Republic of Boulder and thence to California. She later deleted it.

And now Kris Brown, president of Brady United, who referred to Mr. Dicken as a “vigilante”.

Many on the progressive Left believe that government should hold the monopoly on violence. In other words, self-defense on behalf of yourself or others would be against the law and that any defense of a person should come from agents of the state, i.e., the police. If you respond like Mr. Dicken, then you are just as culpable in the eyes of the law as the killer.

Michael Bane discussed this at length in his MBTV On The Radio podcast last week. His example was that of the bodega worker who was being charged with first degree murder for protecting himself against a felon out on parole. This episode is well worth a listen.

We know that Mrs. Watts and Ms. Brown are anti-gun. It also appears that they are against self-defense. I am of the belief that as elitists, they fear firearms in the hands of the great unwashed. In other words, thee and me. They want the monopoly of violence – and the tools with which to secure it – to be in the hands of the state. This fits in directly with what Chairman Mao’s speech to the Chinese Communist Party said in 1938.

Every Communist must grasp the truth, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party… All things grow out of the barrel of a gun.

The founders of the United States, by contrast, were greatly influenced by the works of English philosopher John Locke. He was a proponent of natural law. One tenet of natural law is that you have a natural right to life and you have a right to defend this life.

From Locke’s Second Treatise on Government, Chapter II, Section 16:

 it being reasonable and just, I should have a right to destroy that which threatens me with destruction: for, by the fundamental law of nature, man being to be preserved as much as possible, when all cannot be preserved, the safety of the innocent is to be preferred: and one may destroy a man who makes war upon him, or has discovered an enmity to his being, for the same reason that he may kill a wolf or a lion; because such men are not under the ties of the commonlaw of reason, have no other rule, but that of force and violence, and so may be treated as beasts of prey, those dangerous and noxious creatures, that will be sure to destroy him whenever he falls into their power.

Most countries of the world, whether they be communist, socialist, capitalist, authoritarian, democratic, or some other variant, do not recognize the individual’s right to self-defense. It doesn’t matter whether you are in China or Canada, the monopoly of violence remains in the hands of the state.

The United States, however, does recognize an individual’s right to self-defense. Whether by common law or codified law, it is a right recognized in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. This is true even in the most progressive of states.

That Mrs. Watts and Ms. Brown reject the right of self-defense puts them, not us, outside the mainstream. It is a right that must be defended at all costs because without it we are slaves.

Yippee Ki-Yay….Trenches?

Was it all quiet when the Germans beat the Apaches? Or the Kaiser surrendered to Geronimo? Did they really have saguaro cacti in Flanders?

Did someone at Amazon, which is where this book cover was posted, confuse Erich Maria Remarque with Louis L’Amour? While both served time in the military in Europe, it was in different wars. Remarque served in the Great War while L’Amour served in a Quartermaster Company in World War II.

The book was made into a movie at least twice with a third in post-production according to IMDB.com. The 1979 version featuring Richard Thomas is available on Prime Video. Beyond the movies, excerpts of the book used to be required reading in high school English class.

Frankly, I have no idea what the people at Amazon were thinking using this illustration. However, it is so absurd that it becomes the subject of a blog post on a quiet Sunday afternoon for which I thank them.

H/T Michael W.

Wit Davis Resigns As NRA Board Attorney

Wit Davis who replaced Steve Hart in 2019 as the counsel to the NRA Board of Directors has resigned. The announcement was made in an email to the Board this evening. NRA President Charles Cotton announced it and he had NRA Secretary John Frazer email his announcement to the Board.

To My Fellow Board Members:

I am writing to inform you that Wit Davis has resigned his position with the NRA.  I am sure he would want you to know he noted that “it has been an honor to serve this remarkable organization” and that he is available to help the transition to a new attorney.

The plan is for the Association to hire an attorney who will serve through the conclusion of the NYAG case and, if necessary, thereafter until a permanent replacement is found.  We do not want to rush into hiring counsel to provide advice to the Board. Therefore, an interim solution will allow us to conduct a more comprehensive search.

Please join me in wishing Wit the best.

Charles L. Cotton

There can be many explanations for Mr. Davis’ resignation. It could have been that he was forced out by Bill Brewer, Alternatively, it could have been they just didn’t have the money to continue to pay him. Another alternative and one any sane person in his position should have concluded was that life is too short to deal with this crap anymore. I’m sure whatever the reason we will find out more in the coming days.