New York City’s police pension won’t sell about $10 million in gun-related holdings, the president of the biggest officer union said.
The decision by the $26.8 billion fund contrasts with those of New York City’s teacher pension and other public funds divesting or considering it after the massacre of 20 children at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school last year.
“While the social impact of pension investments can be a consideration, there is no evidence that the manufacturers of these weapons that are the tools of the trade for law enforcement have done anything improper,” said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. The pension board’s primary responsibility is to make sound investments, he said in a statement.
The PBA represents 50,000 active and retired New York City police officers, many of whom fight gun crime directly each day.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made restricting sales a signature issue. He serves as co-chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of more than 700 mayors who advocate new laws and stiffer enforcement of existing ones. The group argues for measures to keep firearms away from criminals.
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
New York City’s police pension’s holdings were mostly in two companies as of Feb. 6, according to Connor Osetek, a spokesman for Comptroller John Liu. The fund owned about $5.5 million in shares of Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK:US), which supplies ammunition to law-enforcement agencies, and $3.7 million of Olin Corp. (OLN:US) shares. Olin also makes bullets.
The $46.6 billion New York teachers’ pension said last month that it would sell $13.5 million in stock of five gun and ammunition makers.
“Our investment portfolio gains nothing by doing business with these firms, and this is a sound decision that sends an important message about our commitment to addressing the plague of gun violence in every possible way,” Liu said in a news release last month.
The comptroller acts as investment adviser to the five city pension funds and sits on the board of four. Liu, a Democrat who plans to run for mayor this year, declined to comment on the police pension’s decision because it was made in a part of a meeting closed to the public, Osetek said.
Bloomberg’s representative on the city’s teacher pension case the sole dissenting vote in the 4-1 decision to divest.
“Pension decisions should rarely, if ever, be based on other criteria except what’s best for pensioners, which should benefit taxpayers as well,” the representative, Raymond Sarola said in a prepared statement.
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the second-biggest U.S. pension, said in January it would sell $2.9 million of Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. (SWHC:US) and Sturm Ruger & Co. (RGR:US) stocks that it held through index funds.
The $158 billion California teachers’ pension also holds a stake in New York-based Cerberus Capital Management LP. The private-equity firm owned Freedom Group Inc., the maker of the Bushmaster AR-15 rifle that police said was the primary weapon in the Connecticut attack.
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