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Massachusetts introduces legislation requiring MassPRIM to divest from gun manufacturers

Massachusetts has introduced legislation to the state's Legislature requiring the $72 billion Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board, Boston, to divest from companies that manufacture guns and ammunition, confirmed Chandra Allard, spokeswoman for the state treasurer's office, in an email.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Lori Ehrlich and state Sen. Cynthia Stone Creem, both Democrats, would ensure that MassPRIM would sell, redeem, divest or withdraw all publicly traded securities from any ammunition, firearm and firearm accessory manufacturing companies that derive 15% or more of their revenues from the sale or manufacture of ammunition, firearms or firearm accessories for civilian purposes.

As of Jan. 31, MassPRIM held active equity stakes in six such companies, with the value of these holdings amounting to roughly $5 million, Ms. Allard said.

"As a state, we decided to divest from Big Tobacco because of the harm it causes in our communities," Ms. Ehrlich said in a news release issued by the state treasurer's office. "It is time we do the same with guns and ammunition."

Ms. Creem added in the news release: "By enacting this bill, Massachusetts will stand with thousands of individuals and entities exercising their right as consumers to send the message that we must do more to stop gun violence."

The PRIM Board can divest only as a directive from the Massachusetts Legislature. In the past, MassPRIM has been directed to divest from companies that derived much of its revenue from tobacco and companies doing business with Sudan, Northern Ireland and Iran due to regional conflicts.

Following the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., similar legislation has been introduced in New Jersey and Florida. Plus, Connecticut state Treasurer Denise L. Nappier recently said the $34.2 billion Connecticut Retirement Plans & Trust Funds, Hartford, might soon divest from gun manufacturers.

Eric Convey, spokesman for MassPRIM, could not be immediately reached for additional comment.

The full text of the bill is available on the state Legislature's website.