Bite the bullet: It’s time to divest from guns
In an interview last week with Essence, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza said, “if we’re serious about making the types of changes that need to happen, we need to be really serious about redirecting resources. Why are we paying tax dollars to departments that continue to murder our people? I don’t want to pay for people to kill us, and I don’t think anybody in our communities want that.”
Many have been wondering how to support the Movement for Black Lives. Garza points to a revolutionary option: stop paying our taxes. We need to educate ourselves, listen to voices of color, attend protests, and voice concerns to elected representatives. But for those who have financial resources, there’s another action you can take today that entails financial, not civil, disobedience:
Move your money out of guns. Today.
Over the last several years, the New York Times has run several stories about the omnipresence of gun manufacturers in broad-based mutual funds:
From January 18, 2013: Investing In Guns
From January 19, 2013: The Guns Hiding In Your Portfolio
From June 27, 2015: Does a Pistol Belong in Your Stock Portfolio?
From January 6, 2016: After Mass Shootings, Some on Wall St. See Gold in Gun Makers
From June 13, 2016: What Happens After Calls for New Gun Restrictions? Sales Go Up
Economists are torn as to whether divestment actually works. But my observation of current divestment campaigns suggests that if divestment didn’t work, the targeted parties wouldn’t fight it so hard. And in either case, the moral argument still holds: if you don’t support the use of guns, why are you earning money off of gun sales and supporting the financial health of gun manufacturers?
We have a hugely powerful financial system in this company and many of the workhorses that power it are not actually good for the people. I’m thinking Smith & Wesson and Lockheed Martin, but I’m also thinking Monsanto and DuPont, CCA and GEO, Shell and BP, McDonalds and PepsiCo, and so on. These are all corporations that profit off of Black death, fast or slow, domestic or international, and depend on poverty, misery, criminality, and perpetual war to make the steady profits our financial system depends on. We need a new economy in which growth entails positive growth in communities, not the growth of diabetes, cancer-causing chemicals, and global militarism and incarceration. For some in the financial world, this is a bitter pill that might entail slower growth overall — but it’s going to be slow, sustainable growth that creates a healthy economy for everyday people, not just healthy stock portfolios for the rich.