David Hogg, an 18-year-old high school senior and survivor of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, is now an outspoken gun law activist. He took to Twitter on Tuesday to encourage a boycott of BlackRock (BLK) and The Vanguard Group.
BlackRock, Invesco (IVZ) and Vanguard are the top three institutional holders of American Outdoor Brands (AOBC), the parent company of Smith & Wesson Corp., one of the world’s largest gun manufacturers. BlackRock and Vanguard are also the largest holders of gunmaker Sturm Ruger (RGR).
Many of these funds are passively managed, which means companies like American Outdoor Brands and Sturm Ruger are in their portfolios because they are part of major stock market indexes.
Earlier this month, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, announced that it would offer two new exchange-traded funds and new index-tracking products for pensions and 401(k) plans that exclude stocks of gunmakers and large gun retailers. This was in response to the mounting pressure from customers urging Wall Street to take a stand on the gun debate.
Vanguard offers the FTSE Social Index Fund, which screens companies based on social and environmental criteria, excluding gun manufacturers.
But, Hogg is not satisfied with these auxiliary options and is encouraging his 764,000 followers to boycott holding groups like Vanguard and BlackRock.
In a statement to Yahoo Finance, a Vanguard spokesperson said the firm “shares many individuals’ concerns about public safety and firearm access and hopes that policymakers take appropriate action to protect Americans from gun violence. Schools, churches and public spaces should always be safe places for all individuals.”
“Vanguard is taking action, meeting with the leaders of gun manufacturers and distributors. We want to know how they will mitigate the risks that their products pose and how they plan to help prevent such tragedies from happening again. We believe that boards and managements of gun manufacturers should disclose and reduce the risks associated with gun violence and the ongoing national debate on gun safety and control. We believe that when a business poses a risk to society, it can also pose a risk to investors. We are expressing this viewpoint directly with company leaders because we believe greater focus and transparency on these issues will ultimately benefit society and investors alike,” she added.
Hogg started a similar campaign last month when Fox News host Laura Ingraham mocked his college rejection letters. Ingraham lost 27 advertisers and took a weeklong hiatus after Hogg’s tweet and the subsequent movement spearheaded by progressive group Media Matters for America. However, “The Ingraham Angle” saw its highest ratings ever after the boycott.
Melody Hahm is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.
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