April 5 (UPI) -- In response to customer sentiments amid a renewed national gun debate, investment company BlackRock said Thursday it's rolling out new fund options that will not include shares of gun makers and large firearm retailers.
BlackRock said it's making the change "to provide more choice for clients seeking to exclude firearms companies from their portfolios."
Retailers excluded from the new environmental social and governance-focused funds include Walmart and Dick's Sporting Goods, even though both companies recently announced they will no longer sell guns to anyone under 21 -- a response to the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
Shares of other companies like Kroger, Sturm Ruger, American Outdoor Brands and Vista Outdoor will also be excluded.
Last month, BlackRock told clients it was time to act in the sustained U.S. gun debate.
"We believe that this event requires response and action from a wide range of entities across both the public and private sectors," the company said last month. "It has put a spotlight on the role of companies that manufacture and distribute civilian firearms.
"Many of these companies are privately owned, but some of the largest manufacturers and retailers are publicly listed companies and are therefore held in the portfolios of millions of individual and institutional investors around the world."
The new firearm-free options will be exclusively available to certain institutional investors, including qualified U.S. pensions like 401(k) plans.
"It is ultimately our clients' choice about the types of funds they invest in," BlackRock said. "It is our privilege to serve them, and we will continue to engage with all of our clients to understand their needs and preferences so that we can effectively meet their investment objectives."