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Yale Won't Invest in Assault Weapon Sellers

August 24, 2018
 
 

Yale University and its $27.2 billion endowment are making a statement on firearms, announcing a new policy this week under which it will not invest in retail outlets marketing and selling assault weapons to the general public.

The policy, announced Tuesday, comes after a faculty member asked the university to divest from companies that make military-style assault rifles. Yale investing committees considered the request and decided not to invest in traditional retail distributors or promoters and dealers who sell assault weapons at gun shows.

In a statement, the Yale Corporation Committee on Investor Responsibility tied the move to mass shootings, which it said cause “incontrovertible societal harm.” Retailers supplying assault weapons to the general public cause “grave social injury,” it said.

“Yale is committed to research, scholarship and education for the betterment of the world; this requires an environment in which teachers and students are free from gun violence and the fear of gun violence,” the statement said.

The university is drawing a distinction between retail distributors and manufacturers, however. That’s because assault weapons “may be used for sanctioned purposes by the military and law enforcement,” according to the committee.

The new policy apparently won’t cause Yale to sell any of its current holdings. The chair of Yale’s Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility, Jonathan Macey, told Bloomberg he did not believe the university’s endowment currently has any holdings in retailers selling assault-style weapons.

Yale in the past has sold holdings amid discussion of ethical investing. In 2016, it sold less than $10 million in investments deemed inconsistent with its principles of a sustainable environment. The university is also adopted a divestment policy on companies operating in apartheid South Africa and put in place a similar policy regarding oil companies deemed to be providing assistance to militias and government actors violating human rights in Darfur, Sudan.

Although Yale merits attention because it has the second-largest endowment in the country, it isn’t the only university to consider keeping money out of the firearms industry. Earlier this year, anecdotal reports indicated college money managers were quietly inquiring about divestment options as students and parents ramped up pressure. Years ago, the University of California fund sold gun stocks after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut.

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