Big Players in Finance Profited From Gun Used to Kill Shireen Abu Akleh

On May 11, 2022 Al-JazeeraShireen Abu Akleh, journalist, was shot and killed. Many believe she was deliberately targeted by Israeli armed forces. A CNN investigation concluded that video evidence and witness testimony “suggest that Abu Akleh was shot dead in a targeted attack by Israeli forces” while doing her job and wearing a clearly marked “Press” vest and helmet. The Palestinian Attorney General stated last week that Abu Akleh was killed in an attack by Israeli forces. new reportAbu Akleh was shot with a Ruger Mini-14 semiautomatic rifle. It was a 5.56mm round.

The Connecticut-based company Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc.This Ruger Mini is made. Ruger was founded in 1949 to produce firearms for the commercial sporting markets. It is now a thriving company. one of the largestThere are several publicly traded gun companies in America.

Ruger is a network of banks, investors, and directors that provides financing and governance for the company while it profiteers from harms such as the one against Shireen. These profiteers behind Ruger include corporate actors such as BlackRock and Vanguard as well as board members involved in a range of harmful industries or causes.

Ruger’s Top Owners & Banks

According to Ruger’s most recent proxy statement, two single asset managers — BlackRock and Vanguard — own more than a quarter of the company. BlackRock — the world’s number one asset manager — owns the largest chunk with 15.9% (or 2,792,671 shares) — an unusually large stake even for BlackRock to have in a company.

In recent years, BlackRock’s CEO Larry Fink has made gestures regarding the social responsibility of its investors. Fink’s 2018 letter to CEOs, for example, stated that “[s]ociety is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” and that “[t]o prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

BlackRock is still available. the largest shareholderThree of the most prominent publicly-traded gun companies. BlackRock seems to know this is a problem — indeed, it has made statements distancing itself from the gun industry’s harm. BlackRock spokesperson, for example, recently spoke out. said — as paraphrased by The New York Times — that “BlackRock’s holdings of Ruger did not mean the company had taken an active investment position on guns.”

But these statements and positions are an evasion on BlackRock’s part. As Ruger’s top shareholder, BlackRock is in a stronger position than anyone else to hold the company to account. It may describe the nature and extent of its involvement differently, but the truth is that BlackRock has a major stake Ruger’s that it benefits from and is one the few actors who can do something about it.

The same goes with Vanguard, Sturm Ruger’s second largest owner. Vanguard Group — the world’s second largest asset manager — owns 10.7% of the company (1,888,300 shares). Vanguard Group has been heavily scrutinized for its investments into harmful industries. As we reported earlier this year with Action Center on Race and the Economy, Vanguard “oversees nearly $6 billion in investments in high risk sectors in the studied funds that perpetuate environmental and racial injustices.”

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Renaissance Technologies, Sturm Ruger’s third largest owner, is a hedge fund based in New York State. Renaissance owns 5.9% of the company (1,030,575 shares) according to Sturm Ruger’s 2022 proxy statement. This investment has increased dramatically in 2018 when we reported on Renaissance Technologies’ 1.2% stake in the company.

James Simons, CEO of Renaissance Technologies is a major donor for the Democratic Party. According to OpenSecretsMarilyn Simons and her husband, Simons, gave more than $24.5 millionTo Super PACs supporting Democrats for the 2020 federal elections, $11 million to the Senate Majority PAC; $5 million to the House Majority PAC; $4 million to Priorities USA Action; $3 million to Unite the Country; $1.5 million Strategic Victory Fund; $10,000 to Just the Truth PAC. Marilyn Simons and James also made maximum donations to a combined $139,400Kathy Hochul, New York Governor, has made gun control a priority. a main campaign issueIn her electoral campaign following the white supremacist attack on Buffalo.

It’s not just the asset managers and hedge funds that own Ruger that prop the company up — banks do this as well. Regions Bank, for example, is an example. biggest bankAlabama offers a variety of services, including a $40 millionRuger line-of credit Ruger was also a client of Wells Fargo, who issued the gun company a $40 Million line of credit. in 2018. A 2018 Bloomberg article called Wells Fargo the “Go-To Bank for Gunmakers and the NRA” and stated that the bank had “helped two of the biggest U.S. firearm and ammunition companies access $431.1 million in loans and bonds since December 2012.” (In 2020, Wells Fargo said its relationship with the NRA was “declining.”)

Ruger’s Board of Directors

Ruger has a board of directorsThese directors control the company and profit personally. These directors own hundreds of thousands of dollars — and even millions — in Ruger stock.

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Moreover, some of these directors who benefit from weapons’ sales are also tied to harmful companies and reactionary causes that contribute to upholding gun violence in the US and oppressive regimes worldwide:

  • Extractive and fossil fuel industries. Ronald Whitaker was President and CEO of Hyco. This company produces technology that makes it easier to extract fossil fuels and fracking. Philip Widman servedAs the Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President at Terex Corporation, a construction equipment company with focuses that includes a giant like Terex Corporation, includeenergy and mining Widman and his wife also have a mining business. donatedTo the National Right to Life Political Action Committee (PAC of the oldest antiabortion organization in America). Widman took in$208,360 as a Ruger director, and his 27,829Company shares were worth $1,848,958 at the end of June 2022. Additionally, Michael O’Fifer held leadership positions in Mueller Industries, which has committed a number of environmental violationsYou can also be one of the companies held responsibleFor soil contamination in Chicago
  • White supremacist ideology. Sandra “Sandy” Froman helped William Shockley supports white supremacist eugenics theories While at Stanford University, she claimed that she does not rememberHe is open to collaboration. White supremacist ideas like Shockley’s have contributed to a growing far-right threat and escalating violent attacks on Black people, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, and others. In 2021, Froman received $190,864 in Sturm Ruger’s investment and still owns 13,570 shares Company’s value as of June 6, 2022 is $901,590.
  • Private prisons. It is worth mentioning Michael Jacobi, despite his resignation. While chairman of Ruger’s board, he refused to engage in dialogueWith shareholders concerned about gun safety in recent years. Jacobi received $198,092 in 2021 from Sturm Ruger. He also bought 6,359 shares company stock, which was worth $422,491 by June 6, 2022. Jacobi was also a member of CoreCivic’s board for 16 years. CoreCivic is the US’s largest private prison company. It owns and manages private prisons across the country. Many banks have been critical of CoreCivic as well as the private prison industry. fleeing from themTo avoid bad publicity for the association. Numerous scandals — from mishandlingCovid-19 outbreaks to forcing detainees to work for little pay while being threatened and deprived of basic toiletries — have occurred in its facilities.

While it is not surprising, given their role in overseeing a gun manufacturer, it’s worth noting that these board members have been connected to major US reactionary forces. This contributes to preventing action in response to the rising number of mass shootings.

  • Sandy Froman has a lifetime positionShe has served on the NRA Executive Council since 1992. She also served as the NRA’s Vice President from 1998 to 2005 and President from 2005 to 2007.
  • Ruger is a frequent donor of funds to the NRA. They pledged $1 million in 2011 $1 to the NRA for every Ruger gun sold as part of its first “Million Gun Challenge.” By the end of the campaign in 2012, Rugers had donated $1.2 millionto the NRA. Sturm Ruger in 2015 and 2016 directed$10 million to NRA, and $1.5 million over the next two years.
  • Sturm Ruger’s CEO Chris Killoy is on the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) board of governors. The NSSF calls itself “The Firearm Industry Trade Association.” Benefitting from gun sales from multiple angles, Killow is also a board memberVelocity Outdoor, another manufacturer, makes rifles, pistols, and ammunition products. He was a member of the 2021 Olympic Committee. compensatedRuger paid him $3,435,000 and he received $9,557.993 total from the company between 2019-2021. His 150,395 shares in Ruger stock reported in Ruger’s 2022 proxy filing alone are worth close to $10 million as of June 6, 2022.
  • Philip Widman sits on the board at Vectrus Inc. top 100The world’s leading arms manufacturers.

Strangely, directors who profit from destructive arms are able to burnish other positions. Ronald Whitetaker, for example, is one such director. LinkedInpage, is on the advisory panel at the Indiana University Manufacturing Policy Initiative, which is part the school’s Public and Environmental Affairs school. He is also — again, according to his LinkedIn page — the vice chair of the Savannah Music Festival in Georgia. Georgia is one of the states with a “guns everywhere” bill that was signed into law in 2014. Savannah is often the victim of gun violence. This was the scene of a shooting at its state university. past April.

Ruger’s Dangerous Global Reach

Ruger describes itself as a company of “Arms Makers for Responsible Citizens” and as a model of corporate and community responsibility. The truth is that they distribute and produce weapons against journalists, unarmed protestors, children and BIPOC communities.

The latest version proxy statement, Ruger also reaffirmed its “Deep Commitment to Human Rights”. Ironically, the company also opposed their filing. a proposalA human rights impact assessment was required to ensure that the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are upheld. The majority of shareholders voted in favor. The company stated that it opposed this resolution because “the outcome that proponents advocate and actually seek will harm the company, destroy shareholder value, and undermine the Second Amendment rights of the Company’s customers.” The proposal shareholders approved is nonbinding.

The risk factors in the company’s annual report specify that “misconducts, fraud or improper activities by our employees or contractors could have a material adverse impact on our business and reputation. Such misconduct could include the failure to comply with federal, state, local or foreign government procurement regulations.” But in the case of Shireen Abu Akleh’s murder, the misconduct committed by itsCustomer and client — the Israeli government — goes against international law. Human rights experts, for example, have said her killing “may constitute a war crime.”

Ruger and Smith & Wesson, another major gun manufacturer, are being pressured by other nations as well around the harm caused by their gun business. Mexico, for example, filed a $10 billion lawsuitLast August, the courts convicted the companies of allowing weapons to flood into the country.

It’s not far-fetched to suggest that tragedy, crisis, and mass discontent have left companies like Ruger at an advantage. Gun sales in America increased significantlyDuring the pandemic. Based on their proxy statement filings, Ruger’s sales increased 28% in 2021 compared to 2020, with production also increasing 30% and earnings increasing 73% in that period. The share prices of ammunition and gun companies are rising. often rise after mass shootingsInvestors often see a spike in sales before stricter gun laws are called for. Ruger gained more than 4%After the shooting at Uvalde, Texas.

Simply put: Ruger profitsSelling weapons that are involved with the oppression and deaths of people around the globe is not allowed.

The US’s increasing trend in guns and military budgets is also evident in the increased military aid it gives Israel unconditionally. The US is Israel’s largest supplier of military aid. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 83% of Israel’s arms imports came from the US between 1950 to 2020. Also, 80% of all aid that the USThe US has sent Israel military assistance since 1967. The US provided $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel in 2020, which is part a larger overall effort. $38 billion dealOver a 10-year period.

Despite the fact that Leahy LawNo Israeli unit has been held responsible under a US law that prohibits US defense articles being exported to military units. These military aid deals can be used to buy weapons from companies such as Ruger. The campaign No Ruger Guns to IsraelIt has been documented over 200 casesRuger guns are killing or injuring Palestinians.

Sturm Ruger directly benefits from the gun violence in the USA and abroad. Its close relationship to the NRA allows it to push for policies like less gun control which will increase its profit-making. What is happening in Palestine cannot be separated from what is happening elsewhere in the US, with its increased gun violence. The US gun lobby and weapons producers have had devastating and unjust consequences around the world, including the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh.

Ruger is one of the stakeholders personally invested in the upkeep of the hyper-militarized and over-weaponized societies — and major firms like BlackRock and Vanguard prop up and benefit from the company’s business.