Why Businesses Need to Engage in the Fight Against Gun Violence

At the end of last month, a gunman entered a synagogue in Poway, California and open fired with an A.R. 15-style gun, killing one person and severely wounding three others.

And just like that, the nation was once again mourning over innocent lives that were lost to senseless gun violence.

This country has become far too familiar with gun violence. Every year, more than 36,000 Americans are killed by gun violence, and approximately 100,000 more are shot and wounded. A striking 58 percent of American adults or someone they care for have experienced gun violence in their lifetime.

A couple embrace near a growing memorial across the street from the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, Calif., on Monday,, April 29, 2019. A 19-year-old gunman opened fire on Saturday as about 100 people were worshipping exactly six months after a mass shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing one and injuring more. (AP Photo/Greg Bull)

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Gun violence continues to scar the country physically, emotionally, and financially. Survivors are now no longer a select few Americans—they are our friends, our colleagues, our employees, and our customers.

Indeed, the immense impact of gun violence extends far beyond those who are immediately affected. New data recently released by Everytown for Gun Safety clearly demonstrates how gun violence hurts both national and local economies, costing us billions of dollars every year and stifling the economic progress of the communities that are affected.

The gun violence epidemic in the United States has become so prevalent and so rampant that it is impacting job creators and businesses, both large and small, in unprecedented ways.

Unsurprisingly, communities that experience gun violence are less likely to be hubs for economic growth and commerce, face lower property values, fewer business startups, and loss of jobs. One study estimated that surges in gun homicides slowed home-value appreciation by 4 percent.

Moreover, gun violence can and does happen in the workplace. In 2017, there were 351 gun homicides in U.S. workplaces—an average of nearly one person killed every day. Since 1999, there have been nearly four times as many mass shootings in the workplace as there have been in schools.

These figures are certainly staggering, and beg the question of what role businesses and corporations should and can play in acting and speaking out against gun violence, given the adverse impact of this epidemic on businesses and the economy at large.

The answer is clear: a big role. Ultimately, the majority of Americans believe corporations have a responsibility to speak out on political and social issues, including gun safety.

A recent study revealed that 68 percent of Americans believe it is appropriate for a corporation to take a position on gun safety, and this strong feeling towards gun safety is even stronger among Millennials, a critical consumer demographic. In the 2018 midterms, gun violence was the number one voting issue among young people, with an overwhelming 91 percent of adults in this age cohort saying that a candidate’s position on guns is important when deciding who to vote for.

Put simply, the vast majority of voters want critical action to be taken in both the public and private sectors against gun violence. To be sure, we are already seeing some businesses take a stand.

The nation’s largest gun seller, Walmart, has already announced that it would not sell any firearms to people under 21. The retail giant also resolved to end all sales of anything resembling an assault-style rifle.

Additionally, Citibank announced a new U.S. commercial firearms policy that requires retail sector clients or partners to abide by several best practices prohibiting the sale of firearms without a completed background check, high capacity magazines, and firearms to purchasers under the age of 21.

Further, Dick’s Sporting Goods ended sales of all assault-style rifles in its stores one year ago. The company also committed to no longer selling high-capacity magazines and, similarly to Walmart and Citibank, now requires gun buyers to be 21 years old, regardless of what the local laws are.

Though many investors feared severe harm to the stock price and to sales, the stock price of both companies did not tank, and Dick’s Sporting Goods even saw a 26% jump in its stock price in the same financial quarter that they implemented changes in their gun policies.

While not all companies have such a significant share in the gun market, every business across all sectors can do something to act against gun violence. Tech companies such as Facebook are taking steps to limit the discussion of gun sales and promotion on their platforms, and a wide range of organizations including Delta Airlines, Best Western and Met Life have cut their ties completely with the National Rifle Association.

Ultimately, it is clear that not all substantive change has to come from public sector policymaking. Whether it is to bolster their business or to take a stand on a critically important issue, businesses both big and small have the ability to play a substantial role in putting an end to gun violence once and for all.

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At the end of last month, a gunman entered a synagogue in Poway, California and open fired with an A.R. 15-style gun, killing one person and severely wounding three others.

And just like that, the nation was once again mourning over innocent lives that were lost to senseless gun violence.

This country has become far too familiar with gun violence. Every year, more than 36,000 Americans are killed by gun violence, and approximately 100,000 more are shot and wounded. A striking 58 percent of American adults or someone they care for have experienced gun violence in their lifetime.

A couple embrace near a growing memorial across the street from the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, Calif., on Monday,, April 29, 2019. A 19-year-old gunman opened fire on Saturday as about 100 people were worshipping exactly six months after a mass shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing one and injuring more. (AP Photo/Greg Bull)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Gun violence continues to scar the country physically, emotionally, and financially. Survivors are now no longer a select few Americans—they are our friends, our colleagues, our employees, and our customers.

Indeed, the immense impact of gun violence extends far beyond those who are immediately affected. New data recently released by Everytown for Gun Safety clearly demonstrates how gun violence hurts both national and local economies, costing us billions of dollars every year and stifling the economic progress of the communities that are affected.

The gun violence epidemic in the United States has become so prevalent and so rampant that it is impacting job creators and businesses, both large and small, in unprecedented ways.

Unsurprisingly, communities that experience gun violence are less likely to be hubs for economic growth and commerce, face lower property values, fewer business startups, and loss of jobs. One study estimated that surges in gun homicides slowed home-value appreciation by 4 percent.

Moreover, gun violence can and does happen in the workplace. In 2017, there were 351 gun homicides in U.S. workplaces—an average of nearly one person killed every day. Since 1999, there have been nearly four times as many mass shootings in the workplace as there have been in schools.

These figures are certainly staggering, and beg the question of what role businesses and corporations should and can play in acting and speaking out against gun violence, given the adverse impact of this epidemic on businesses and the economy at large.

The answer is clear: a big role. Ultimately, the majority of Americans believe corporations have a responsibility to speak out on political and social issues, including gun safety.

A recent study revealed that 68 percent of Americans believe it is appropriate for a corporation to take a position on gun safety, and this strong feeling towards gun safety is even stronger among Millennials, a critical consumer demographic. In the 2018 midterms, gun violence was the number one voting issue among young people, with an overwhelming 91 percent of adults in this age cohort saying that a candidate’s position on guns is important when deciding who to vote for.

Put simply, the vast majority of voters want critical action to be taken in both the public and private sectors against gun violence. To be sure, we are already seeing some businesses take a stand.

The nation’s largest gun seller, Walmart, has already announced that it would not sell any firearms to people under 21. The retail giant also resolved to end all sales of anything resembling an assault-style rifle.

Additionally, Citibank announced a new U.S. commercial firearms policy that requires retail sector clients or partners to abide by several best practices prohibiting the sale of firearms without a completed background check, high capacity magazines, and firearms to purchasers under the age of 21.

Further, Dick’s Sporting Goods ended sales of all assault-style rifles in its stores one year ago. The company also committed to no longer selling high-capacity magazines and, similarly to Walmart and Citibank, now requires gun buyers to be 21 years old, regardless of what the local laws are.

Though many investors feared severe harm to the stock price and to sales, the stock price of both companies did not tank, and Dick’s Sporting Goods even saw a 26% jump in its stock price in the same financial quarter that they implemented changes in their gun policies.

While not all companies have such a significant share in the gun market, every business across all sectors can do something to act against gun violence. Tech companies such as Facebook are taking steps to limit the discussion of gun sales and promotion on their platforms, and a wide range of organizations including Delta Airlines, Best Western and Met Life have cut their ties completely with the National Rifle Association.

Ultimately, it is clear that not all substantive change has to come from public sector policymaking. Whether it is to bolster their business or to take a stand on a critically important issue, businesses both big and small have the ability to play a substantial role in putting an end to gun violence once and for all.

Read more at Forbes.com

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