Rhode Island Employees' Retirement System, Providence, will end investments in assault weapons manufacturers and private prisons, state Treasurer Seth Magaziner said Wednesday.
Mr. Magaziner oversees the Rhode Island State Investment Commission, which oversees the pension fund. Its decision makes Rhode island the fourth state pension fund to take similar action, and the first to divest from both private prisons and assault weapons manufacturers at the same time.
Mr. Magaziner said at a news conference Wednesday that assault weapons manufactured for civilian use and for-profit prisons "have caused too much pain for countless Americans, including Rhode Islanders."
He noted that the five deadliest mass shootings of the past decade involved assault weapons, while the business model of for-profit prisons "creates corporate incentives" for increasing already-high incarceration levels in the United States, and for cutting costs at the expense of prison populations and employees.
"With today's decision, we can do the right thing without impacting the health of Rhode Island's pension system," Mr. Magaziner said.
The $8.7 billion pension fund has $250,000 total invested in assault weapon manufacturers and private prison operators, which represents 0.003% of total assets. Proceeds from selling the shares will be reinvested across the market.