Impact Blog

The views expressed in these posts are those of the authors and are current only through the date stated. These views are subject to change at any time based upon market or other conditions, and Calvert disclaims any responsibility to update such views. These views may not be relied upon as investment advice and, because investment decisions for Calvert are based on many factors, may not be relied upon as an indication of trading intent on behalf of any Calvert fund. References to individual companies for Engagement or Research purposes are provided for illustrative purposes only and may not be representative of the results of all of Calvert’s engagement efforts. The discussion herein is general in nature and is provided for informational purposes only. There is no guarantee as to its accuracy or completeness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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      By John Streur, President and CEO, Calvert Research and Management

      Washington - Americans have extraordinary freedom to buy, own, carry and use guns relative to other developed countries around the world. Those freedoms must be matched with a framework for creating safety and well-being for all citizens and specifically address the needs of young people, such as the students, teachers, families and community members of Parkland, Florida. Our society certainly has the technology and capability to do so, and we believe it is a question of "will" across a set of stakeholders from media, financial, technology and retail sectors to act.

      As the role of the corporation in society continues to expand, businesses can and do play an increasingly large role in influencing societal outcomes. Companies have taken positions on important social issues and used their power to influence other political decisions that only loosely connect to their corporate finances. Today, there is a need and opportunity for corporations to step up and help solve the American gun violence problem.

      Calvert does not invest in companies that manufacture or have a significant and direct involvement in the sale of firearms and/or ammunition. These do not meet the requirements of the Calvert Principles for Responsible Investment, which determine our universe of investible securities. Many investors do own such companies, and broader engagement by a coalition of investors will be one part of creating change.

      How companies can help

      Companies also have the ability to drive change. We believe that companies across the media, retail, finance, technology and other sectors have the potential to make significant contributions to creating a system of education, training, licensing and ongoing monitoring of gun sales and ownership that would help create the cultural change needed today. The purchase, ownership and operation of automobiles is framed through education, licensing and inspections; the United States needs an even stronger framework for guns.

      Many companies can play a role, as corporations have a major stake in keeping our schools and the general population safe and secure. Some may be in position to contribute technology or engineering that would make the background check, registration and tracking process easier and more comprehensive. Others can provide thought leadership to create effective training and education programs. All companies can ask politicians to back a system change that creates a safe environment for Americans while maintaining the freedom granted by the Second Amendment.

      Some businesses acted quickly after the Parkland shooting. For example, the First National Bank of Omaha announced it would not renew its agreement to issue an National Rifle Association (NRA)-branded credit card, and Enterprise ended its discount program with that organization.1 Now is the time to build on that momentum and initiate significant long-term change. Investors and media members will need to keep up the pressure on companies to continue to act in the coming weeks and months to ensure progress continues to be made.

      Bottom line: The United States provides extraordinary freedom under the constitution to own guns, but needs the corresponding systems in place to allow this freedom to be exercised responsibly. Companies have the opportunity to come to the table and help solve this problem, along with many other stakeholders.