Principles for a Responsible Civilian Firearms Industry

Enacted November 14, 2018


As investors, we have come together to develop a framework to advance a responsible civilian firearms industry in the United States of America. We believe in the rule of law and respect the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. As asset owners and asset managers, we have a duty to our beneficiaries who depend on us for financial security; such obligations compel us to assume responsibility for reducing risks that we and our beneficiaries face if and when we hold a financial interest in both private and public firearms related enterprises. We believe that enterprises involved in the manufacturing, distribution, sale and enforcement of regulations of the firearms industry are well positioned to support pragmatic transparency and safety measures that contribute to the responsible use of firearms. Through this framework, we assert our role as investors in encouraging such practices, and we identify expectations for the firearms industry that will reduce risks and improve the safety of civil society at large. Further, we commit to monitoring progress by companies over time and engaging with them regularly on this issue, especially in support of enterprises that champion adoption of responsible practices.

The Responsible Civilian Firearms Industry Principles (“Principles”) are meant to be sensible and not intended to be prescriptive in nature. We recognize that there are many ways to apply a principle; companies are free to apply the Principles in a manner they deem appropriate. We also recognize that the civilian firearms industry is highly regulated by both federal and state entities with respect to the manufacture, sale, use, and transfer of firearms. However, we also recognize that more can be voluntarily done by companies within these existing regulatory boundaries to advance safety and the responsible use of civilian firearms.

Collectively, we investors are supportive of the following five broad principles. We call on companies within the civilian firearms industry to publicly demonstrate and publish their compliance with each of these principles, failing which, we will consider using all tools available to us as investors to mitigate these risks.

  • Principle 1: Manufacturers should support, advance and integrate the development of technology designed to make civilian firearms safer, more secure, and easier to trace.
  • Principle 2: Manufacturers should adopt and follow responsible business practices that establish and enforce responsible dealer standards and promote training and education programs for owners designed around firearms safety.
  • Principle 3: Civilian firearms distributors, dealers, and retailers should establish, promote, and follow best practices to ensure that no firearm is sold without a completed background check in order to prevent sales to persons prohibited from buying firearms or those too dangerous to possess firearms.
  • Principle 4: Civilian firearms distributors, dealers, and retailers should educate and train their employees to better recognize and effectively monitor irregularities at the point of sale, to record all firearm sales, to audit firearms inventory on a regular basis, and to proactively assist law enforcement.
  • Principle 5: Participants in the civilian firearms industry should work collaboratively, communicate, and engage with the signatories of these Principles to design, adopt, and disclose measures and metrics demonstrating both best practices and their commitment to promoting these Principles.

Signatories include (as of November 14, 2018):

  • California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS)
  • California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS)
  • Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds
  • Florida State Board of Administration
  • Maine Public Employees Retirement System
  • Maryland State Retirement and Pension System
  • Nuveen, the asset manager of TIAA
  • OIP Investment Trust
  • Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund
  • Rockefeller Asset Management
  • San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System
  • State Street Global Advisors
  • Wespath Investment Management

Institutional investors and asset owners that share a similar risk viewpoint surrounding the civilian firearms industry are invited to demonstrate their support of these principles by becoming a signatory. Email FirearmsPrinciples@CalSTRS.com for more information on becoming a signatory supporting these principles.