Human Rights - Weapons and the Penal System

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Americans continue to die from mass shootings around the country—in concert venues, in the workplace and in schools; as this report went to press, a former student at a Florida high school shot and killed 17 people and sent dozens more to hospitals, only the latest in a bloody start to 2018. Proposals this year are to gun makers and sellers, and another is at an insurer.

ICCR members have voiced criticism of gunmakers and distributors for decades and this year have stepped up these efforts once again. In a resolution to manufacturers American Outdoor Brands (formerly Smith & Wesson) and Sturm, Ruger, they ask for a report by next February, 

on the company’s activities related to gun safety measures and the mitigation of harm associated with gun products, including the following:

  • Evidence of monitoring of violent events associated with products produced by the company.
  • Efforts underway to research and produce safer guns and gun products.
  • Assessment of the corporate reputational and financial risks related to gun violence in the U.S.

Turning to a retailer that sells weapons, Mercy Investments asked Dick’s Sporting Goods to “report on actions our Company has taken, if any, on elements such as those based on Sandy Hook Principles”—in annual reports starting in 2019. The principles were named after the children killed in Connecticut just before Christmas 2012, and aim to curb gun violence. Mercy withdrew after discussions with the company about steps it takes to ensure gun safety.  Subsequently, and after Parkland, Florida shooting, Dick's CEO announced the company would stop selling assault weapons in all its stores.  Walmart, which did not have a similar proposal this year, followed suit.

Chubb has underwritten CarryGuard insurance, a policy that seeks to protect those who use their weapons in self-defense. Its website says it is

for those who lawfully carry firearms and their families, including protection against civil liability, the cost to defend against civil and criminal legal actions and immediate access to attorney referrals. It also includes supplementary payments as needed for bail, criminal defense legal retainer fees, lawful firearm replacement, compensation while in court, psychological support and cleanup costs for any covered claim resulting from the use of a legally possessed firearm—including an act of self-defense.

The shareholder resolution is from an individual investor, Stewart W. Taggart, and asks for a report

discussing the Company’s options for adoption of policies above and beyond legal compliance to prevent or minimize public health harms from insurance products (Carryguard) serving ‘controversial weapons markets’ (Stand Your Ground shootings) causing ‘disproportionate harm’ (gun killings and woundings occurring under murky circumstances with few if any surviving disinterested witnesses).

The company successfully challenged the resolution at the SEC, which agreed it can be excluded because the proponent did not provide sufficient proof of stock ownership. The SEC did not respond to the company’s other arguments—that it was about ordinary business since it concerned the types of insurance products Chubb offers. Chubb also invoked SEC Staff Legal Bulletin 14I and contended the proposal sought to micromanage its business and was not otherwise a significant issue, while noting a board committee met and considered the issue of firearms insurance in December, and that institutional investors raised no concerns on the issue during 2017 meetings with it. While the company fought the proposal, in the wake of the Parkland shootings, Chubb also announced it no longer would underwrite CarryGuard.

Recidivism and political activity:
Prisoner rights advocate Alex Friedman’s proposal to CoreCivic was omitted because it was filed too late. It may therefore be resubmitted again next year. The resolution asked for a new policy, “for the purpose of reducing recidivism for offenders released from the Company’s facilities,” to include:

  1. Each year the Company shall calculate the total amount of funds it spent on political campaign contributions and lobbying on the local, state and federal levels during the previous year.

  2. Each year the Company shall spend at least an equal amount of money as the total amount calculated in section 1 on rehabilitative and reentry programs or services at its facilities.

  3. The expenditure of the funds specified in section 2 shall be in addition to any funds the Company already spends or is required to spend on rehabilitative and reentry programs or services pursuant to the Company’s contracts with government agencies.

  4. The expenditure of the funds specified in section 2 may be used to expand rehabilitative and reentry programs or services already provided in the Company’s facilities; to establish new rehabilitative and reentry programs or services; or to fund non-profit organizations that provide rehabilitative and reentry programs or services.

  5. The expenditure of the funds specified in section 2 shall be done on an annual basis.