Los Angeles moved Wednesday to divest its pensions from any company associated with the production, sale or marketing of assault weapons.
"We are sending a clear signal that Los Angeles supports a ban on assault weapons and that the second-largest city in the nation will not use its resources to fund these dangerous weapons," LA Councilwoman Jan Perry, who introduced the motion, said on her blog.
The measure instructs the city’s three pension fund systems to report on their investments and begin the process of divesting from companies that produce, sell or market assault weapons, high-volume ammunition magazines, high-caliber ammunition and other firearms "of a type used to inflict mass casualties."
Councilwoman Perry told The Huffington Post that her introduction of the motion was influenced by "reading when I was younger about strategies to break the chain of commerce for groups that are profiting off of tragedy."
Los Angeles has divested from tobacco companies, Sudan, Burma and apartheid South Africa in the past. "I wanted to go beyond a ban on assault weapons because everyone who's a Democrat supports that," said Perry, who is vying to become LA's next mayor. "This is more innovative, and it has worked before for the city."
On Jan. 16, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sent letters to the city’s three pension fund systems -- the Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System (LACERS), the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions (LAFPP) and the Water and Power Employees’ Retirement Plan (WPERP) -- asking each to work to end any investments in companies that produce or manufacture firearms, ammunition or high-capacity magazines.
Other cities are moving in the same direction. New York City’s pension board voted to divest from makers of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines -- although not from all weapons makers as originally proposed. Philadelphia's pension board unanimously adopted Mayor Michael A. Nutter's plan to divest city funds from gunmakers and sellers that do not follow a set of gun-safety principles.
In Chicago, after persuading a $5 billion pension fund to divest from companies that make firearms, Mayor Rahm Emanuel urged two major banks to stop financing companies “that profit from gun violence.” The California Board of State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) has begun the process of divesting from some gun and ammunition-clip manufacturers, and State Treasurer Bill Lockyer wants the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) to do the same.
Still, some public pension trustees and union officials say their priority is to get maximum benefits for their members, and that divesting from weapon companies compromises that goal.
Councilwoman Perry, who has represented much of crime-ridden South LA, said the measure is about saving lives. "Too often, I have had the sorrowful experience of attending funerals of men, women, and children who have been gunned down on the streets of Los Angeles," she said. "I felt that this simple action would have a huge impact, allowing our dollars to speak for us."
Earlier on HuffPost:
Increase Access To Background Check Data
Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
Remove Legal Barriers On Background Checks
Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
Incentivize Sharing Of Background Check Data
Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
Review Criteria For Gun Ownership
Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
Background Checks For Returning Seized Guns?
Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
More Guidance On Background Checks
Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
Safe & Responsible Gun Ownership
Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
Gun Lock & Safes
Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
Improve Gun Tracking In Criminal Investigations
Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
Report On Lost & Stolen Guns
Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
Nominate a director for Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms.
Training For Law Enforcement
Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
Maximize Enforcement Efforts On Gun Crime
Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
Increase Research On Gun Violence
Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
Prioritize New Gun Technology
Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies
Clarify Obamacare On Doctors & Guns
Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
Inform Doctors On Reporting Threats
Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
School Resource Officers
Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
Develop Emergency Response Plans
Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
Clarify Scope Of Medicaid's Mental Health Coverage
Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
Finalize ACA Regulations
Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
Address Mental Health Parity
Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
Start Dialogue On Mental Health
Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.