In your Jan. 21 editorial, “Misdirected Furor,” criticizing the so-called rush to firearms divestment on the part of institutional investors, I found it curious that the two institutions cited as bucking the trend about private equity — the University of Notre Dame and the General Board of Pension & Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church — both observe social investment policies that restrict investments that violate their faith-based missions.
Indeed, the UMC has an explicit policy restricting investments in firearm companies.
Your editorial, along with its ridiculous cartoon, leaves the false impression that these institutions wouldn't dare embrace divestment when social harm is at stake — when in fact they already do it as a matter of course. These well-performing institutional investors have very impressively met their fiduciary objectives while also investing in socially responsible ways. So for you to suggest that restricting investments in gun manufacturers presents a violation of fiduciary duty, at a time when regulatory and reputational risk have rarely been higher for this industry, is simply wrongheaded and ill-informed.
Fellow, Tellus Institute
This article originally appeared in the February 18, 2013 print issue as, "Divesting and still meeting fiduciary duty".