Gun Violence Prevention Through Shareholder Advocacy

With the stroke of a pen this past Tuesday, Rhode Islanders celebrated a new wave of gun reform legislation as it was enacted into law. The three bills ban magazines that contain more than ten rounds of ammunition, prohibit the open carry of long guns in public, and raise the minimum age to purchase long guns and ammunition from 18 to 21 years. I am proud that Rhode Island’s elected officials heard the calls for action — from our students, our mothers, and our community leaders — and accomplished meaningful change.

Unfortunately, many other states and corporations have not responded in kind. Indeed, Mastercard and Visa — the two largest credit card corporations in the world — have refused to bend to common sense and public opinion by prohibiting ghost gun purchases on their cards. Ghost guns are untraceable firearms that can be purchased online and assembled at home. Though Rhode Island moved to criminalize the sale and possession of such weapons in 2020, local law enforcement officials routinely recover such weapons. Earlier this year, in fact, a Rhode Island man was arrested while attempting to sell a large cache of ghost guns.

To me, such willful inaction and callous indifference by large corporations is truly unacceptable. While state legislatures, local elected officials, and community activists must lead the fight for gun reform, private business has a responsibility as well. A responsibility not only to others but to society at large.

As your next General Treasurer, I will be responsible for overseeing the state pension’s investment portfolio. With a pension fund totaling nearly $11 billion, our state maintains investments in a diverse array of public companies. The state pension system owns thousands of shares in some of the world’s largest corporations. Effectively, this can make the state pension system a significant shareholder in such companies.

Though shareholders, even larger ones, cannot directly dictate corporate governance, they can do so indirectly. Shareholders can exercise this influence in a number of ways, from shareholder proxies and direct dialogue with corporate directors to filing and advocating for shareholder proposals. As a significant shareholder and oftentimes a long-term investor, I pledge to use my voice and my position of influence to be an activist shareholder.

What does that mean? That means that I will do all I can to push Mastercard, Visa, and companies like them to adopt more responsible corporate practices. I will vote for and advocate on behalf of resolutions that evaluate ways in which such corporations can reduce engagement with and financial entanglement in the gun industry.

As a state, and as a country, we have to end the scourge of gun violence in our communities. By exercising this influence, we can continue the steady beat of progress and change for the better.



Proud Father. Former Mayor. Democratic Nominee for General Treasurer in 2022. From Rhode Island and For Rhode Island. Donate Here >>>

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James Diossa for RI

Proud Father. Former Mayor. Democratic Nominee for General Treasurer in 2022. From Rhode Island and For Rhode Island. Donate Here >>>