Board members of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) voted 9-3 against scheduling a vote in April to potentially divest from retailers of assault weapons.
State Treasurer and CalPERS board member John Chiang urged the board to divest in light of the shootings at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month.
“If Congress and statehouses are unwilling or unable to deliver real change, then it is up to us to lead the fight,” said Chiang, who is also a Democrat candidate in California’s gubernatorial election this year.
Despite the presence at Monday’s board meeting of gun violence protection advocates and relatives of victims of the 2015 San Bernadino attack, CalPERS ultimately rejected Chiang’s measure by a wide margin. Opponents of the request argued that divestment would not actually reduce gun violence and cited the benefits of working with gun sellers to change policies from within.
“We have found that engagement is a better alternative for us to be able to accomplish something in this arena,” said board member Bill Slaton, who voted “No.”
“If we are divesting, we lose our seat at the table,” added board member Theresa Taylor.
CalPERS said it would conduct an in-depth review of its investment policy on assault weapons retailers next year.
The $345 billion US public pension has a 19 percent allocation to alternative investments. Platinum subscribers may click here for the pension’s full profile, including key contacts, allocation strategy and fund investments.