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