A gun rack with assault rifles is displayed at a weapons retailer. (Getty Images)
Nevada’s treasurer, who oversees a $49 billion investment portfolio, announced plans Thursday to divest from companies that manufacture or sell assault-style weapons.
The policy change has the potential to affect roughly $89 million in assets, according to the Treasurer’s Office. State financial managers said they are working on identifying all public companies that manufacture or sell assault-style weapons.
If approved by the State Board of Finance, it will mark the first time Nevada has taken the step of divesting shares in firearm-related companies.
The proposal comes after a mass shooting in a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school ended in the death of 19 children and two teachers last week. That mass shooting is one of more than a hundred that have taken place in the U.S. since the Oct. 1, 2017 shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, which is still considered the deadliest mass shooting in modern history.
“As Nevada’s chief investment officer, I have a responsibility to ensure Nevada’s tax dollars are invested with minimal exposure to risk,” said Treasurer Zach Conine in a statement. “Companies that profit on the manufacture and sale of assault-style weapons present a market risk I’m not willing to take. Investments are fundamentally a plan for the future, and it’s time Nevada started investing in a better future where our children aren’t slaughtered in classrooms.”
The Treasurer’s office implemented an internal policy Thursday to stop investing state funds in companies that manufacture or sell assault-style weapons, but will analyze future divestment from such companies “on a case-by-case basis.”
All divestments from gun manufacturers affected by the plan “will not be sold at a loss” said the Treasurer’s office, adding that “there won’t be a negative financial impact to the state’s investment portfolio.”
“If an assent can not be sold profitably, we will hold it until maturity and then never buy it again,” said Conine in a video explaining the new policy.
Nevada’s portfolio includes investments for Nevada’s General Portfolio, the Local Government Investment Pool, the Permanent School Fund, and several education savings and tuition plans. Any changes to investment policies related to higher education will also need to be approved by the Board of Trustees of the College Savings Plans of Nevada.
Conine is also calling on other states and financial institutions to cease or limit business with manufacturers and sellers of assault-style weapons.
Nevada joins Connecticut, Rhode Island and New York City, which have chosen to divest from firearm companies in response to growing gun violence.
Financial managers for those jurisdictions have argued that recent court cases involving civilian gun manufacturers make them financially risky.
Conine made similar arguments adding that such investments “expose the state to too much risk.”
“We have a moral obligation to just offer thoughts and prayers, but to act, and we have a financial obligation to rid ourselves of investments that carry this much risk,” Conine said.
This article was first published by Nevada Current, part of the States Newsroom network of news bureaus that includes Louisiana Illuminator.
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