WatchSonoma Watch

Pension funds and gun companies

CalSTRS, the state pension fund for public school teachers, has a major investment in a private-equity firm that in turn owns a company that owns Bushmaster Firearms International, which manufactured the rifle used in the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. Once you get through the various steps in the chain, CalSTRS owns about 2 percent of Bushmaster.

On Monday, the pension fund said it would re-examine its $625 million investment in funds managed by Cerberus Management, the private equity firm. California state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who sits on the boards of both CalSTRS and CalPERS, the other big state pension fund, urged reconsideration of all pension investments in companies that manufacture weapons that would be illegal in California.

Divestment isn’t unprecedented. UC regents succumbed to public pressure in 1986 to sell investments in companies that did business in South Africa. Six years ago, the regents voted to divest in companies with ties to the government in Sudan. Some other divestiture requests were rejected.

What do you think? Should public pension funds rid themselves of investments in weapons? Or any other industry?

– Jim Sweeney


12 Responses to “Pension funds and gun companies”

  1. dbaker says:

    I hate the dysfunctional gun control debates and the refusal of people to simply look at the facts. I don’t watch hardly any TV and never get any news from the standard sources people seem to consider legitimate, despite the blatant dishonesty and manipulation offered as truth. You people like being lied to and are only interested in mimicking the messages given to you by people who don’t like you..

    Here’s some news for you awesome debaters who consider all opinions that differ from your mentor’s/con-man to be the result of stupidity or evil intentions. Humans are unique in the way they place value on an item, service, or whatever. This difference in value judgement is what makes trade possible and advantageous for both parties. If we all applied the same objective standard in identifying worth we would have no trade, no recognizable society, and probably still be nomadic wanderers.

    The issues that seem to divide us today are really just the predictable outcome of a system that tries to be too many things to too many distinct sets of values. In the end the only interests being consistently served are the interests of corruption valued by the folks that like to see us confused.

    We all want kids to be safe, bad guys to be locked away, and for the future to hold promises of peace and security. One side puts the value of cops, laws, and prohibitions above the alternatives in achieving the goals. The other values independence, self sufficiency, and personal responsibility. The only thing that is absolutely certain is the fact that any choice made for all will leave some feeling cheated, disenfranchised, and oppressed. This is a trade that shouldn’t happen.

    I suggest that you people turn off the TV and work this issue of safety out amongst your local communities, and with the folks that you call neighbors. Reaching beyond that and trying to impose your will upon 315,000,000 people you don’t know through threats and acts of force is unrealistic, immoral, and unAmerican.

    As for the pension non-conflict I could care less. If the city doesn’t want to invest in Bushmaster because guns kill people, let them pick another investment. Why would the fact that guns are honest commerce, US made, and flying off shelves be a consideration? Or the fact that they go to many more good guys than bad? I wonder if they are invested with any big Phama? 100,000 people are killed by them every year, but not for mishandling their product. That’s the toll it takes on the lives of those who use as directed the FDA approved “medicine”

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  2. Reality Check says:

    “They had lots of violence and mass murders like we have. They don’t anymore.”

    That simply isn’t true. Australia’s murder rate was lower than ours both before and after it passed strict gun control laws. Yes, a mass murder led to the new laws, but it had little affect on the murder rate.

    Here are the stats from the Australian government:


    I actually favor gun control. But our newspapers are filled with all kinds of hysterical claims that connect to no factual data. In any case, no gun control proposal would have prevented the tragedy of Newtown. None. If we want to prevent his from happening again, let’s get the fix right.

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  3. GAJ says:

    Let’s see, you have a kid who’s obviously mentally unstable, you teach him how to shoot, you allow that child access to all those guns and ammo and it’s the gun’s fault?

    I don’t have a gun in the house, never will, but, trust me, if I had an unstable person in the house I’d be worried about the freaking kitchen knives let alone a stockpile of guns and ammo!

    The person who allowed this to happen, sadly, is the misguided mother.

    It should be a lot harder to get guns and there should be mandatory training.

    If the trainer thinks the person behind the gun is unstable, they should be allowed to have a method to ensure that person cannot get a gun.

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  4. Jer says:

    Australia’s changed gun laws of 1996 are often cited as an excellent example of how to really control bad gun abuse. Unfortunately, it is a great myth. After Australia passed its gun laws, which were not as big a cutback as some would have you believe, gun use in murders and armed robbery actually increased for a few years, then fell off slowly. Violent crime in the U.S. also slowly declined over the same period of time. The gun control results are not very clear even after 12 years. And just because the numbers declined does not mean gun controls caused the decline.
    And don’t take my word for it. Check the Australian government’s figures yourself:


    The most gun violent cities in the U.S. New Orleans, Detroit, Baltimore, and Oakland all have gun control as did Newtown. There are no controls over the mentally disturbed however. Since it has been those hands behind these mass murders isn’t it time to look at that problem first?

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  5. Skippy says:

    Someone needs to tell President Santa Claus this is a fight he will lose, and in a way he never expected.

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  6. Brad says:

    Oh, just look at the gun control freaks and the liberal media dance in the blood at Sandy Hook! Rahm Emanuel said “You never let a serious crisis go to waste” and Obama is following that strategy to the letter. The NRA has been warning for months what Hussein would do if elected to a second term and it looks like he got just the tragedy he and his comrades wished for to carry out their agenda.

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  7. David says:

    Most of the “talking heads” are demanding more laws. Can you name me one law that has stopped criminal activity? I see laws broken every day, driving infractions, murder, robbery, drug use, etc. Criminals break the law and we will always have criminals. Unfortunately, we can’t legislate morality. Amongst all of the call for more laws I see the commercials for 3 or more very violent movies playing now. Hollywood types won’t stand for any laws reducing the violence in their product and they have as much or more clout ($$$$) with politicians than the NRA.

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  8. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Lots on the news about Australia’s changed gun laws. People should pay attention. They had lots of violence and mass murders like we have. They don’t anymore. In fact, since the laws were changed they have had NOT ONE mass murder and gun deaths, especially by suicide, have gone down. They bought all the restricted guns back from their owners, plus 10% profit and people reluctantly handed them over. AND THEY SEE THE POSITIVE RESULTS. People are less afraid knowing that there are fewer guns out there so the probability (math people, or odds, or luck-whatever you call it) of them dying from being gunshot diminishes proportionately.

    The people of this country are a violent lot. The constitutional amendment talks about MILITIAS but we have a strong military now to protect our nation. The people in militias today are a bunch of crazies. In the time the constitution was written they had ONE SHOT muskets and pistols that they had to load through the muzzles and was time consuming. I say we honor the constitution and allow people to have muskets and one shot pistols. Our forefathers couldn’t have even envisioned the type of assault weapons we have today or they wouldn’t have written this amendment.

    Not only that, but the weaponry people have in their possession are built to slaughter PEOPLE, and are not for hunting (unless you are hunting humans). Using an assault weapon for hunting is not sportsmanship and does not make you a man. Having a deer with more bullets in it than flesh is disgusting.

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  9. Follower says:

    When the practitioners of the Religion of Peace stormed cockpits armed with box cutters on 9/11, the response was to allow Airline Pilots to carry handguns.

    Seemed like a logical response to most.

    Arming Teachers is no different. (Our children fly too)

    You never hear about a crazed gunman bursting into a police dept and opening fire.
    They may be “crazy” but they’re not stupid!

    These people who do these things don’t pick a place where they know people will be shooting BACK!

    Let’s make our schools one of those places.

    That doesn’t mean we start passing out guns to teachers any more than we started passing out guns to Pilots.
    The ones who volunteer get trained & certified first.

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  10. Snarky says:

    Did any of you see the news this morning?

    While we continue to WAIT for that follow up report on the local Santa Rosa Junior College Cop being prosecuted right now for stealing public money over a years long period of time…

    The State Parks Dept has AGAIN been caught in a financial crime. Uh, they don’t call it a crime, but when its public money being used to line the pockets of public employees in direct violation of the law… that makes it a crime.

    Read more at the SacBee since the Press Demo is too busy writing about DUI drivers and such.


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  11. Nora Gonzales says:

    We need to look more closely at the ACLU, social activists and other groups that had played a large part in closing the mental health facilities and turning the mentality ill out on the streets without treatment.

    They have done nothing for the mentality ill, their families and society as a whole except make the social problems much worse.

    Restricting guns will do nothing to start murders. It never has. Addressing the murders in Newtown or in Colorado require a serious change in how we treat the mentality ill. Stop the excuses, stop the red tape and begin helping the affected individuals instead of concentration of their rights to wander freely in the society.

    Proper mental illness treatment is required, not more gun regulations which will accomplish nothing except allow the politicans to say they did something when in fact, nothing was accomplished.

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  12. Skippy says:

    Buy more Bushmaster stock. They are selling like hotcakes to folks fed-up with being defenseless against whackos that Big Govt refuses to incarcerate until they snap. Don’t you law-and-order-types know that deeply disturbed young men have rights? Buy one yourself while you still can. Isn’t Calpers about $500,000,000 underfunded?

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