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New Jersey drops pension investment in rifle manufacturer

By Daniel Uria
New Jersey sold a $1.9 million stake in a company that manufactures automatic and semi-automatic rifles from its $76.7 billion pension fund following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which 17 people were killed by a gunman wielding an AR-15. File Photo by Gary Rothstein/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/f265f7b009f9892ddb07619b54ef27b0/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
New Jersey sold a $1.9 million stake in a company that manufactures automatic and semi-automatic rifles from its $76.7 billion pension fund following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which 17 people were killed by a gunman wielding an AR-15. File Photo by Gary Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

March 29 (UPI) -- The state of New Jersey announced Thursday it sold its holdings of all pension investments in manufacturers of automatic and semi-automatic weapons for civilian use.

The pension fund for government workers sold a stake in Vista Outdoor, which produces semi-automatic rifles under its Savage MSR product line, last week, Chris McDonough, director of the Department of the Treasury's Division of Investment announced.

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McDonough said the Investment Policy Committee agreed and the Division of Investment evaluated the fund following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in which a former student killed 17 people with a semi-automatic AR-15, and identified which companies would be "adversely financially impacted by a changing landscape as it relates to certain types of firearms."

"Vista Outdoor was the only holding we identified that manufactures semi-automatic or automatic weapons for civilian use," he said. "We had already been reducing the position over time and, consistent with our fiduciary responsibility, we recently sold our remaining position based on the merits of the investment."

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New Jersey's Division of Investment has since identified $35 million worth of holdings in publicly traded firearm and ammunition manufacturers as part of the $76.7 billion pension fund, but the $1.9 million stake in Vista Outdoor was the only holding related to automatic and semi-automatic weapons.

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The State Investment Council said it will look into taking further actions related to civilian firearm manufacturers and retailers through the Environment, Social, and Governance Subcommittee.

"This is a wise investment strategy that also aligns with the goals of the ESG Subcommittee by taking into account social factors as part of the investment decision-making process," acting Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio said. "I commend the State Investment Council for this swift and decisive action."

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