People Over Profits: How Social Media Can Help Us Combat Gun Manufacturers



After more than twenty years of trying, there’s no way to avoid the following conclusion:  The gun manufacturers of America cannot be swayed by reason.


This past week alone, we saw just how true this statement has become.


On Tuesday morning, a gunman opened fire at a FedEx facility in Kennesaw, Georgia wounding six people before being shot and killed himself.  Kennesaw is famous for being the Georgia town where every household is mandated to own at least one gun.  Although the law is not officially enforced, it is estimated that roughly 50% of town residents do, in fact, own at least one firearm.  This event follows last week’s Georgia bill that was signed into law which has become known as the “guns everywhere bill.”  The bill gives Georgia residents the ability to take guns into public buildings such as bars, nightclubs, and libraries.  Already, we have seen one crazed Georgia resident brandish his gun at a little league baseball game full well knowing that there was nothing the local police could do to stop him.


These events in Georgia follow this past weekend’s NRA convention in Indianapolis, an event that has become a prime opportunity for the rest of the country to see how delusional and paranoid the American gun lobby has become.  Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart pointed out how utterly unreal the views were expressed by this year’s participants including comments from Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio, and Wayne LaPierre.  There was even a promotional video expressing what has become the NRA’s rallying call since Sandy Hook:  The absolute necessity for good guys to have guns.  The video’s purpose was to serve as a recruitment tool for the NRA to add to its ever-growing ranks of over 5 million people.


So, what can be done against an army of 5 million Americans led by a powerful group of lobbyists and a CEO who believes every city of America is straight out of Vice City?


How about hitting them where it hurts the most:  Their profits.


On Tuesday, over twenty organizations led by Campaign to Unload and States United to Prevent Gun Violence launched a campaign to defund the three major gun manufactures in this country:  Strum Ruger, Smith & Wesson and Olin.  The purpose of the campaign is simple:  To have people take a close look at their 401(k) retirement funds and see if their 401(k) includes any kind of investment in any of the three major gun manufacturing companies.  The Unload Your 401K website has a powerful video with parents and family members of those killed or injured at either Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and even those affected by everyday gun violence telling their stories and sharing their disappointment regarding the lack of legislation enacted at the federal level.  The video then gets to the heart of the campaign’s message:  Gun profits have soared ever since Columbine from $928 million to roughly $4.1 billion today.  The worst part?  Average people like you or me may very well be helping the gun manufacturers become rich.


How exactly are we helping the gun manufacturers?  Jennifer Fiore, Executive Director of Campaign to Unload helped explain the campaign’s goals in her statement which read:


“Divestment is a new front in the war against America’s epidemic of gun violence.  It’s time to defund the companies that profit from gun violence and obstruct the political change that would end it. Over 51 million Americans have a 401K retirement plan that could be contributing to the gun lobby– driving wealth to gun manufacturers and funding efforts that have stalled all action in Congress.”


On the main page of the Unload Your 401K website is a search option that allows you to type in your 401(k) provider and it then will provide you with information as to whether or not your provider is invested in the three gun manufacturers.  If your provider is invested, the website then gives you three options:  Tips on how to unload you 401(k) and work with your company’s human resources department, ways to contact your co-workers to rally them to your cause, and the option of signing up to an email list to stay involved with the issue.  Seeing as how the website launched on Tuesday, there most likely will be additional resources added to the website as public awareness increases.  In addition to the search option, the website also includes facts about both 401(k) investments concerning gun manufacturers as well as sobering statistics regarding the amount of gun violence in this country.


The Unload Your 401K campaign offers an intriguing new way to address the issue of gun control in this country.  The idea of divestment has had historical successes.  The most prominent success was that of using divestment as a response to South African apartheid in the 1970s and 1980s.  It was this strategy that led to the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 which imposed sanctions against South Africa and eventually help lead to the end of apartheid in 1991.  For the gun manufacturers of America, they are absolutely dependent upon their profits and any disruption would cause havoc for the industry.


For those of us who have been repeatedly disheartened, and to be honest, ashamed by the lack of action by our government on gun control, this new campaign gives us a chance to make an impact by taking on the financial side of the gun manufacturers.  And, let’s be honest:  The whole issue of gun control in this country is directly related to profits.  The reason the NRA’s rhetoric now verges on that of paranoia is due simply to the fact that fear sells.  Fear convinces people they are unsafe and that they need protection no matter the cost.  The more scared they are, the more likely they are willing to pay out big bucks to ensure their safety.  For the Unload Your 401K campaign to succeed, those involved need to show the gun manufacturers that they too are willing to spend money to ensure their safety.  Only in this case, they must show they are willing to take away money from the gun manufacturers.


If they can do that, then this creative campaign has the chance to deal a serious financial blow to the gun manufacturers in this country.


20 Replies to “People Over Profits: How Social Media Can Help Us Combat Gun Manufacturers”

  1. This makes a lot of sense and I’ll check my 401K bond fund.
    Also, did you know that CONGRESS stipulated by law that the gun manufacturers cannot be sued and held responsible for gun deaths? What a great group of Congressmen we have.
    After the murders of the Australian and German students, we should be scared that the world won’t want to visit the US anymore.

  2. The problem with divesting is that assumes that no one else will pick it up. Which thanks to dedicated pro-gunners they will eagerly by what is divested then they will employ a force over the industry that made the NRA boycott of S&W look like a tea party should the companies bow even the slightest to gun control.

  3. Gee, it’s almost as if guns aren’t sentient objects that kill people. There’s always a guy with his finger on the trigger. And just like we don’t hold car manufacturers responsible for hit and runs, just like we don’t hold kitchen knife manufacturers responsible for stabbings, we don’t hold gun manufacturers responsible for shootings.

    Let’s examine things rationally, yes?

  4. I hate to tell you all this but there is no way we as free un gun fettered Americans can ever win this through financial means. The NRA and their attorneys will find ways to legislate against this method. The only thing that will hurt gun manufacturers is the total destruction of all factories that produce the most dangerous and prolific weaponry. Except those who produce arms for our military and those manufacturers should be closely monitored and kept within one facility. These gun nut cowards are never going to grow up or man up to the fact that they are dangerous to us and eventually themselves. They are mentally unstable and our police forces are woefully under armed against such insanity.

  5. I am very pro second ammendment, the reason we have a second ammendment is that history shows an unarmed citizenry becomes the subjects of it’s government. People are naive to believe that in this modern day and age that a government cannot become tyrannical in nature. People must be armed with weapons that equal or closely equal those in the government possess. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. If someone broke into my house, you can bet I would feel a lot better with an assault rifle than I would with a pistol.

  6. So does this mean we can do the same thing to Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry that puts profits over people by chopping up one million unborn babies a year like a Waring blender?

  7. You know you are a hypocrite because if you can get pregnant you would be the first idiot to cry 10th amendment rights to abort the baby inside you if you knew you couldn’t afford it. You people make me sick

  8. The difference is that car manufacturers can be sued if the car is defective in some way and causes injury or death. Gun manufacturers cannot be sued even if the gun’s defects cause injury or death.

    So, if a car’s brakes fail, you can sue. If a gun’s safety fails, you can’t sue.

  9. Divestment as a strategy to harm a business sector can work only when it is backed by near-universal agreement among investors. An example of this from history is the successful campaign to divest from companies with interests in South Africa during the Apartheid era. That had a real effect on the economy, and it was a factor in the country’s sweeping political changes in the 1990s.

    Firearms and ammunition enjoy broad-based popularity among Americans. Even if half of the people insisted that their retirement plans divest of those businesses, it wouldn’t do them any harm and it might even result in the unintended consequence of people flocking to invest there.

    If it makes you feel better knowing that your retirement savings isn’t invested in firearms or ammunition, good for you. That is your right. But don’t be surprised when other people prosper because of your decision.

  10. Gun manufacturers can be sued and held financially responsible for injuries and deaths caused by defective guns, just as automobile manufacturers can be sued for the consequences of defective motor vehicles.

    I doubt that many people would see someone suing GM for the result of an accident caused by a drunk driver as reasonable. But gun manufacturers, whose pockets aren’t nearly as deep as those of the auto makers, were being systematically hit with “SLAPP” suits in the 1990s and early 2000s. That led to Congress passing a law to protect them in 2005.

    Abuse of the legal system can lead to unintended consequences.

  11. … except cars are primarily transportation devices and users premeditate getting from point A to point B. Guns are primarily devices to cause harm to someone or something and users premeditate that use.

  12. Auto manufactures can be sued only if the product is deemed defective or unsafe……they can not be sued for the actions of drivers.

    Gun manufacturers are under the same exact laws there is no difference at all. Your implication that there is some kind of special protection for gun makers is false.

  13. Gun rights are important and essential to free society.

    Having said that…….I’m a rightwing militia’s worst nightmare, a Liberal that can probably shoot better than they can.

    Gave up on the NRA in the early 90’s when they became a wing of the Republican party. Our rights should be non-political, they belong to us all and should never be used as political footballs.

    Gun laws do not work because, I hate having to say this because it is so obvious, criminals, mass murders, and assassins do not obey the laws! Gun owners like myself have no problems with background checks, they should be universal.

    People who rally around gun control are just as stupid as those wingnut rightwingers that scream impeach the President.

  14. The securities that you are talking about have already been sold into the market. They are part of the “Outstanding stock” of the company. The company has ALREADY received the proceeds from the sale of the Initial Public Offering. The company receives NO further compensation from the continued tradin of it’s securities. A company can purchase it’s own stock on the open market, which they sometimes do to reduce the number of outstanding shares to help bolster it’s stock price because of the reduction. You cannot sell your shares…individual stocks or mutual funds…. unless there is a buyer on the other side. If it makes you feel better, then do it. But realize that a company’s profit will not be affected.

  15. Yes car makers can be sued for defective products that cause people to be killed. So can gun makers be sued if their product is defective and causes injury. They can not be sued if the product kills a person as part of its normal operation. The law was to prevent gun grabbers from sueing anytime a gun was used to prevent crime or as part of a crime. The manufacturer can not know or control the human that pulls the trigger.
    If you pull the trigger and the gun explodes (with correct factory ammo) then someone will make things right via product replacement and/or damage payments.

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