Thursday, December 7, 2023

ESG Shareholders Prepare Legal Action Against Smith & Wesson for Producing and Selling M&P-15 Sport

Fox News reports that a faction of Smith & Wesson's shareholders, aligned with the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) movement, is preparing to sue the company over the sale of its M&P-15 rifle, a model similar to the AR-15. These shareholders, advocating for ESG principles that prioritize social responsibility and progressive values over profit, are focusing their efforts on gun control.

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The impending lawsuit alleges that Smith & Wesson has knowingly exposed itself to significant legal risks by manufacturing, marketing, and selling AR-15 style rifles and similar semiautomatic firearms, despite not violating any laws. The plaintiffs argue that the company's board of directors has neglected its fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders by overlooking potential liabilities and failing to exercise oversight over the production and marketing of these firearms.

Among the plaintiffs are the Adrian Dominican Sisters, guided by Sister Judy Byron, a prominent anti-gun advocate and member of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), a key player in the ESG movement. The ICCR, known for championing leftist causes in corporate governance, recently issued a statement co-authored by Sister Byron, criticizing the National Rifle Association (NRA) for impeding gun control legislation. The ICCR urges companies to take a stand against gun violence, including ceasing the production of AR-15s and other semiautomatic firearms.

The ICCR's statement emphasizes the moral and business imperatives for companies to distance themselves from gun violence. It advocates for corporate actions that could counter gun violence and promote safer communities, beyond relying on federal legislation.

“While we believe that sensible gun control legislation and enforcement is needed to help halt the wave of senseless gun tragedies, progress has been stalled at the federal level in large part due to an aggressive NRA lobby,” the ICCR statement said.

“Corporations, therefore, have an important role to play both to ensure that they are not indirectly complicit in these lethal events, and in advancing the solutions that may help prevent them,” the statement continues. “While the business case for companies to reduce their exposure to this issue is clear, the moral case for action grows more urgent each day. We therefore ask companies to carefully reflect on how their operations, business relationships, supply chain policies, marketing practices and public voices might be used to counter gun violence and foster safer communities.”

Some observers suggest that Sister Byron is leveraging the Adrian Dominican Sisters' financial resources to advance her anti-gun agenda. Her commitment to social justice and systemic change was highlighted in her comments following the Parkland shooting, indicating a desire to use the Sisters’ shares to influence corporate policies.

Despite this lawsuit involving some of Smith & Wesson's current shareholders, the majority of the company's investors have historically opposed the ICCR's demands. Past proposals at shareholder meetings to halt the sale of products like the M&P-15 Sport have been overwhelmingly defeated, with more than 73% of investors rejecting these initiatives.

1 comment:

  1. Shall not be infringed. Number are we first going to limit the sale of hammers. How about forks and knifes and cars and trucks. Gun control is only a way to enforce control over the people.