CalSTRS Divests of Certain Firearms Holdings
Investment Committee completes divestment process from assault weapons manufacturers in accordance with the CalSTRS 21 Risk Factors.
WEST SACRAMENTO, CA – The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) Investment Committee today approved the fund’s divestment from firearms companies that manufacture weapons that are illegal in California.
In December 2012, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Connecticut, CalSTRS board member and California State Treasurer, Bill Lockyer, issued a call for the fund to divest from companies which manufacture firearms and high-capacity magazines that are illegal for sale to, or possession by, the general public in the state of California.
On January 9, 2013, the CalSTRS Investment Committee directed staff to begin the divestment process with the two publicly traded U.S. companies within the CalSTRS portfolio that manufacture these products, Sturm Ruger and Smith & Wesson. As of December 31, 2012, the total market value of CalSTRS holdings in Sturm Ruger and Smith & Wesson was approximately $3 million, which represented 0.3 basis points of the Global Equity portfolio.
“The tragic events that took place at the Sandy Hook Elementary School that December morning were truly eye-opening. I think our actions today are an appropriate response, because this tragedy illustrates all too well the hazards such firearms pose to human health and well-being,” CalSTRS Investment Committee Chairman Harry Keiley said.
Today, CalSTRS Chief Investment Officer, Christopher Ailman, recommended divestment in accordance with the CalSTRS 21 Risk Factors, specifically the Human Health risk factor. Staff also determined that they can achieve a portfolio of equal risk and return without including these two particular investments, thereby continuing to reduce risk and maximize returns for the fund.
“As a long-term investor, we see the impact of this event sparking an elevated level of regulatory scrutiny to these products,” Ailman said. “Such events and the human health hazards these weapons pose, prompted us to put into motion the actions leading up to today’s decision to divest.”
The January CalSTRS board vote to begin the divestment process required staff to commence engagement between CalSTRS investment leaders and management teams from the portfolio’s identified firearms companies; to analyze the costs of divestment; and to discuss divestment with experts in the fields of firearms, public safety research and investments. CalSTRS followed a similar process leading up to its 2009 decision to divest from the tobacco industry.
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, with a portfolio valued at $161.5 billion as of February 28, 2013, is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world. CalSTRS administers a hybrid retirement system, consisting of traditional defined benefit, cash balance and voluntary defined contribution plans. CalSTRS also provides disability and survivor benefits. For 100 years, CalSTRS has served California’s public school educators and their families, who today number 862,000 from the state’s 1,600 school districts, county offices of education and community college districts.