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POLITICS

NYC teacher pension fund sells stock in gun makers, but keeps the profits

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michal Conger

The pension fund for New York City teachers made a bit of a political statement when it announced today that it had sold its stock in gun-makers. “This is the right thing to do,” said Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers. “After the tragedy at Sandy Hook, we, as educators, had to make sure that guns were not part of our holdings.”

But with those stocks having seen a huge run-up over the last two years, the fund is perfectly happy to keep profits that came due to record gun sales.

“The plan is that the money will be reallocated to the remaining stocks,” a spokesman from the comptroller’s office told The Washington Examiner.

The New York City Teachers’ Retirement System attributed the decision to the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., and “the continued prevalence of gun violence across the country,” according to Comptroller John Liu. The $46.6 billion fund held $13.5 million in investments in Alliant Techsystems Inc., Olin Corporation, Forjas Taurus SA, Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation, and Sturm, Ruger & Company.

“There is no need to support these companies, whose products can destroy lives and shatter communities in the blink of an eye,” Liu said in a statement. “Our investment portfolio gains nothing by doing business with these firms, and this is a sound decision that sends an important message about our commitment to addressing the plague of gun violence in every possible way.”

The fund would have realized enormous gains from gun stocks if they bought them within the last five years. For instance, if they bought Smith & Wesson one year ago, they just made an 80 percent profit by selling today. If they bought it two years ago, their return on investment is nearly 200 percent.

The move makes TRS the largest pension fund to sell its holdings in gun manufacturers. It is by no means the first, though. Pressured by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s underfunded pension funds sold its holdings in gun makers at the end of January to pressure those companies over their stance on gun laws.

Earlier this month, Emanuel called on banks, pension funds and mutual funds across the country to “divest and blacklist” gun manufacturers until they embrace “commonsense” gun laws.

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