Connecticut has led the way on one of the most important social issues of our time — gun violence prevention.
Commitment and courage is required for our state with the unique history as the cradle of the gun manufacturing industry and as the crucible of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012.
Sadly, that same commitment and courage is lacking at the national level. The House of Representatives a year ago passed legislation for universal background checks for gun purchases — a common sense measure that 90 percent of Americans support — but Senate leadership refuses even to raise the issue for discussion.
Two years ago after another horrific school shooting — in Parkland, Fla. on Valentine’s Day that left 14 high school students and three staff dead — President Donald Trump expressed support for stricter gun regulation. And then a NRA leader met with him and the support evaporated.
Connecticut Treasurer Shawn Wooden believes states have to step up where the federal government won’t and this week will introduce the Connecticut way to the National Association of State Treasurers.
He will describe “how to move the needle in a different way when the traditional levers of influence repeatedly are failing,” he told the Hearst Connecticut Media Editorial Board in a meeting Friday.
The strategy is to use the muscle of the state’s billions in investments to achieve social change. And to do it with a fiduciary responsibility.
Wooden’s Responsible Gun Policy hinges on what he calls the “three Ds” of “divestment, disclosure and doing business.”
Divestment. A thorough analysis of the civilian gun market indicated volatility, Wooden said, which could present risks for investors. The state reallocated $30 million worth of shares in firearm manufacturer securities. Part of that volatility is attributed to the liability lawsuit several families of Sandy Hook School victims brought against manufacturer Remington Arms Co. In November the Supreme Court denied Remington’s bid to block the suit.
Disclosure. Financial institutions that want to do business with the state must disclose their gun safety policies. The state won’t prescribe what the policies should be, but could reward them with incentives and investments.
Doing business. The message to the marketplace is that Connecticut is serious in the pursuit, through novel means, of gun violence prevention. One consequence could be a surge in smart gun technology, which exists but has gained little traction from firearms manufacturers.
The melding of values with rational financial decisions is powerful leverage. Just think what can be achieved if other states follow the same course. Rhode Island is interested, Wooden said, and we hope he will ignite the spark with other states this week.
Critics might call him impatient or impulsive in starting without the support of other states, but we’ve all run out of patience, requiring this brand of boldness.
We agree with Wooden’s assessment that the policy is “good for business, good for society and good for the residents of Connecticut.”